Trojans' Victory Has Never Been Sweeter|
By KEN PETERS
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The USC Trojans did their part. Now they play a waiting game.
Matt Leinart threw five touchdown passes and No. 2 Southern California beat Oregon State 52-28 Saturday in the Trojans' regular-season finale.
The Trojans (11-1, 7-1 Pac-10) find out Sunday whether they will travel to New Orleans to play for the national title in the Sugar Bowl, or stay home and play in the Rose Bowl.
They were No. 2 in the BCS rankings this week. The top two teams in the final BCS rankings will meet in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.
Pac-10 champion USC already had clinched at least a spot in the Rose Bowl.
Oregon State (7-5, 4-4) will play New Mexico in the Dec. 24 Las Vegas Bowl.
The Trojans' depth and versatility on both sides of the ball were more than the Beavers could handle.
USC scored 40 or more points for the seventh game in a row and finished the regular season with a Pac-10 record 506 points. Leinart established a conference single-season mark with 35 touchdown passes.
Mike Williams had two touchdowns catches, one a leaping, one-handed grab in the back of the end zone. He also got a hand on an Oregon State field-goal try that fell short, and made a crushing block on a run by Reggie Bush.
Bush, a freshman, also caught two touchdown passes. Steve Smith, another freshman, had 136 yards on five catches, including a 73-yard touchdown.
Leinart went 22-of-38 for 278 yards. In the first quarter, he threw his
first interception in two months, ending a Pac-10 record streak of 212 passes
without being picked off. He threw another interception in the third quarter,
which Brandon Browner returned 31 yards for a touchdown.
A redshirt sophomore who hadn't thrown a collegiate pass until this fall, Leinart finished the regular season with 3,229 yards passing, with 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Carson Palmer threw for 3,639 yards and 35 TDs, with 10 interceptions last season when he won the Heisman.
Derek Anderson completed 34 of 60 for 485 yards and two touchdowns, but threw four interceptions for the mistake-prone Beavers. Steven Jackson, averaging a conference-high 121.3 yards rushing per game, was held to 62 yards on 22 carries.
The Trojans led 28-14 at halftime, with the Beavers closing the gap on Anderson's 22-yard scoring pass to Tim Euhus six seconds before halftime to cap an 80-yard drive that took only 1:02.
Oregon State got no closer in the second half.
Leinart and Williams accounted for two of the Trojans' first-half touchdowns. Williams made his leaping catch on a 9-yard pass for a 28-7 lead with 1:08 left in the second quarter.
In the first half, the Beavers committed three turnovers, had two field goals and a punt blocked.
Poole returned an Anderson interceptions 67 yards for a second-quarter touchdown, and Leinart threw a 30-yard scoring pass to Bush after USC recovered a fumble in the first quarter.
After Anderson hooked up with Hass on a 90-yard pass play to set up Jackson's 1-yard touchdown run on the Beavers' first possession, USC came back with two TDs in a 20-second span.
Leinart capped a 70-yard drive with a 14-yard scoring pass to Williams that tied it at 7. Euhus fumbled after catching a short pass on the first play of the Beavers' next series, and the Trojans' Melvin Simmons recovered at the OSU 30.
Leinart threw to Bush on the next play to put USC up 14-7.