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    USC No. 1 from Start to Finish in AP Poll
    Heisman winner Matt Leinart and the Trojans never relinquished their lead atop the AP poll.
    Heisman winner Matt Leinart and the Trojans never relinquished their lead atop the AP poll.

    Jan. 5, 2005

    With BC-FBC--AP Top 25
    By RALPH D. RUSSO
    AP Sports Writer

    MIAMI (AP) - Southern California joined some elite company with its latest AP national title.

    The Trojans became just the second team to go No. 1 wire-to-wire in The Associated Press Top 25, and the 10th team to repeat as national champs.

    Following a resounding 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, USC received all but three first-place votes early Wednesday to easily outdistance Auburn.

    The Trojans (13-0) are the first back-to-back AP champs since Nebraska in 1994-95.

    "I know right now I'm in the middle of something special," USC coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday morning after receiving both the AP and Bowl Championship series national title trophies.

    "We are now unanimously No. 1," Orange Bowl MVP Matt Leinart said right after the game.

    Not quite, but good enough.

    USC received 62 first-place votes and 1,622 points. Auburn got the other first-place votes and 1,559 points.

    The Sooners (12-1) finished third, ahead of unbeaten Utah (12-0) and Texas (11-1).

    Auburn (13-0) finished its perfect season Monday night with a 16-13 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

    Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville and his team practically pleaded with poll voters to give his team a championship, but to no avail.

    "Anybody who thought that last night was a championship game, I beg to differ," Tuberville said Wednesday morning. "I'm disappointed that with the type of team we had, as balanced as we were, we did not get a chance to play in that game."

    The Trojans' 36-point rout was the third-largest margin in a matchup between No. 1 and No. 2 teams.

    USC joined Florida State in 1999 as the only teams to be No. 1 from start to finish since the AP started a preseason poll in 1950. The Trojans are also the 10th preseason No. 1 to win the national championship.

    The Trojans' fifth AP title tied them with Miami for the fourth most.

    Notre Dame leads with eight national titles, followed by Oklahoma with seven and Alabama with six.

    And if the Trojans start next season No. 1 - a good possibility even if Leinart skips his senior season for the NFL draft - they will match Miami's record of 19 straight polls as No. 1.

    No team has ever won three straight AP titles, but USC could enter next season as the favorite to do just that.

    Louisville was No. 6, followed by Georgia, Iowa, California and Virginia Tech.

    Miami was 11th, and for the first time since 1982, no team from Florida ended the season ranked among the nation's top five.

    Florida State (9-3) finished ranked 15th and Florida (7-5) ended the season unranked.

    Boise State's first loss of the season to Louisville in the Liberty Bowl dropped the Broncos two spots to No. 12.

    Navy made it into the rankings for the first time since 1979 at No. 24. Fresno State also joined the poll at 22.