Nov 22, 2003
By KEN PETERS
LOS ANGELES - Regardless of the outcome back in the Midwest, the Southern California Trojans knew they had to take care of business at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
They did just that Saturday, scoring on their first four possessions and rolling to a 47-22 victory over crosstown rival UCLA.
As the second-ranked Trojans were taking the field, Michigan was wrapping up a 35-21 victory over Ohio State. USC had slipped to third in the BCS standings behind the Buckeyes last week.
"It was a great day for Michigan, a great win," Trojans coach Pete Carroll said.
Not a bad a day for USC, either.
Matt Leinart threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Mike Williams had 11 receptions for 181 yards and two scores, and the Trojans' defense held UCLA to 11 yards rushing and also chipped in with a pair of touchdowns.
"Everything was just right," Carroll said of the Trojans' play as they took control early. "There was nothing we couldn't do. We were in total command."
The Trojans (10-1, 6-1 Pac-10) have a regular-season game remaining against Oregon State at the Coliseum on Dec. 6. If they win - and the BCS computers don't spit out something quirky at the end - the Trojans ostensibly will play in the Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl for the national title.
Oklahoma is the nation's only unbeaten team and No. 1 in both the national polls and the BCS rankings.
Some of the Trojans learned of Michigan's win just before their game against the Bruins began, and some apparently didn't know the outcome until afterward.
"What was it? I'm asking you," said Williams, who sat out the second half with a sore ankle. "I just found out. I'm sure a lot of people knew."
Williams, who could have played in the second half if needed, was most pleased about beating UCLA (6-6, 4-4).
"Man, the only thing I feel good about is today," the Trojans' wide receiver said. "None of it, the BCS, the Sugar Bowl, matters. I really don't like them (the Bruins), I don't like them at all."
Leinart also said the Trojans weren't thinking about the Michigan-Ohio game or the BCS rankings.
"Our coaches never told us what the score was," he said. "We still have one game left and that's what we have to worry about."
The loss was the fourth straight for UCLA and first-year coach Karl Dorrell.
"We played a very good football team. We could not keep up," Dorrell said. "This game was a great measuring stick for us, and we have a lot of work to do."
Bruins safety Matt Ware said, "Everything they did was right. They hit all the seams. They played Williams in the right spots all day long."
The Trojans led 33-2 at halftime, with Leinart passing for 273 yards. He left the game for good late in the third quarter.
The Trojans overwhelmed the Bruins by scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions and adding a field goal for a 24-0 lead on their fourth en route to their fifth straight win over UCLA.
Williams caught a 21-yard scoring pass from Leinart less than three minutes into the game for a school-record 27th career touchdown reception in a career that has spanned only 23 games for the 6-foot-5, 230-pound sophomore.
LenDale White bulled over from a yard out seven minutes later, then Leinart hit Williams with a 4-yard scoring throw on the first play of the second quarter. Ryan Killeen added the first of his two field goals less than four minutes later.
UCLA's Drew Olson was 21-of-39 for 266 yards and threw for two second-half touchdowns. Under constant pressure, he threw one interception, lost two fumbles and was sacked six times.
The game had some unusual moments, including USC's Reggie Bush returning a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the third quarter, and Maurice Drew answering with a 99-yard TD return for UCLA on the ensuing kickoff.
There also were two long runs on botched PAT tries: the Bruins' Matt Clark returned a blocked USC kick all the way to give UCLA two points, and the Trojans' Shaun Cody intercepted a 2-point try and made it down to the UCLA 5 before he was tackled.
The defensive touchdowns both came when Olson was sacked and fumbled.
Trojans linebacker Kenechi Udeze scored when he recovered an Olson fumble in the end zone after a wild scramble for the loose ball. Mike Patterson, a 6-0, 285-pound defensive tackle, added another score when he picked up another of Olson's fumbles and rumbled 51 yards into the end zone.
Leinart, a redshirt sophomore who hadn't thrown a collegiate pass before this season, has passed for 2,951 yards with 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Through 11 games last year, USC's Carson Palmer had thrown for 3,214 yards, with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy.
Leinart, a rangy left-hander, has thrown 194 consecutive passes without an interception, four shy of the conference record.
"What a season he has had," Carroll said. "There is no other quarterback in American that is playing as well as he is right now."
The five victories in a row over UCLA, which began after the Bruins had won eight straight, is USC's longest win streak in the 73-game series.
The Trojans are averaging 41.3 points this year, and they became the first team in Pac-10 history to score 40 or more points in six consecutive games.
Backup quarterback John David Booty was lost to USC for the rest of the year when he broke his left wrist late in the game.