Trojans Dominate Oklahoma in Every Way

    Jan. 5, 2005

    AP Sports Writer

    MIAMI (AP) - LenDale White played a little possum, a little football and wrapped it up with a little Prime Time shuffle.

    All part of his pre-game plan.

    "I expected it," White said after helping No. 1 Southern California rout No. 2 Oklahoma 55-19 Tuesday night in the Orange Bowl.

    "That's what happens when you talk a lot," White said. "Once Larry Birdine said we were a 1{-man team, I felt disrespected. We took them to the woodshed."

    White referred to the Oklahoma defensive end who called USC's offense average and said quarterback Matt Leinart was overrated.

    Leinart, the Heisman Trophy winner, passed for 332 yards and an Orange Bowl-record five touchdowns. He might have been the star, but several of his teammates did their part to make him look like this year's Heisman Trophy winner.

    White, hampered in recent weeks by a sprained right ankle he sustained Dec. 4 against UCLA, gained 118 yards on 15 carries and scored two TDs.

    "I listened to our trainers all month," he said. "I was playing a little bit of possum with everybody. I don't know if I was 100 percent, but I feel great."

    White did a Deion Sanders celebration dance after scoring his second TD early in the fourth quarter, drawing a penalty flag.

    It hardly mattered.

    "I had to dance," he said. "That was for Deion. He's my favorite player. I told everybody if I got in the end zone and it was a blowout, I was going to dance."

    USC's dominance began with Leinart's improbable 33-yard touchdown pass to Dominique Byrd late in the first quarter, tying the game 7-all.

    Byrd sprinted past a linebacker, threw up his left hand and waved to signal he was open.

    Then the 260-pound tight end did the near impossible - especially for his size. He corkscrewed through the air, pulled in the pass with his right hand and tumbled into the end zone.

    "(Leinart) just told me to run hard and get open," Byrd said. "I knew that when the ball was in the air, I had to go up and get it. I had a one-on-one, I always feel when I'm one-on-one, I'm going to take it."

    Byrd's touchdown was the first of four for the top-ranked Trojans in just over 10 minutes, giving them a 28-7 lead.

    "We just knew if we played our game, it would turn out that way," said cornerback Eric Wright, who had one of USC's three interceptions.

    The domination never stopped.

    In addition to White and Byrd, there was the electric Reggie Bush, a Heisman finalist who dazzled the Sooners with 74 yards on the ground and another 31 receiving.

    There was Steve Smith, who had seven receptions for 113 yards and three touchdowns - two in the second quarter on sliding receptions.

    There was Dwayne Jarrett, who caught five passes for 115 yards and a TD.

    They all have one thing in common - they're underclassmen. And so is the entire offensive line except for guard John Drake.

    That means USC (13-0) could be even better next year. That's a scary thought for the rest of the country.

    Leinart, a junior, is considered one of the top quarterback prospects available and could opt for the NFL draft, but he's been saying he'll likely return for his senior year.

    Only four seniors start on defense and they're back up by top prospects, so there won't be much of a dropoff there, either.

    Sophomore defensive Manuel Wright, for example, helped make life miserable for Oklahoma star Adrian Peterson.

    At one point in the second quarter, after USC gang-tackled Peterson in holding him to a 1-yard gain, Wright sprung to his feet shaking as head as if to say, "No way."

    By that time, the Trojans were assured of their 22nd straight victory dating back to early last season.

    Oklahoma moved 92 yards for a touchdown on its first possession, but that was it for the Sooners.

    Offensive coordinator Norm Chow and head coach Pete Carroll, who handles the defense, showed what they can do with a month to prepare for an opponent: The Trojans dominated in every way possible.