No. 1 Trojans dismantle No. 2 Sooners

Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 1:10 a.m.
Enlarge |

Southern Cal's Dwayne Jarrett catches a 54-yard touchdown pass Tuesday during the second quarter against Oklahoma.

The Associated Press
MIAMI - Southern California stands alone.
No. 1 at the beginning. No. 1 at the end. A non-stop blitz from August to January, with everyone gunning for the Trojans, but no one stopping them.
And no one even touching them, on a stunning Tuesday night in the Orange Bowl, at the moment of truth between two famed powerhouses.
55-19. Who could see it coming? Or how completely and mercilessly the stars from the freeways of Los Angeles would outshine the stars from the plains of Oklahoma?
By the time Matt Leinart had thrown an Orange Bowl record five touchdown passes, and Steve Smith had caught three of them, and Dwayne Jarrett had 115 yards of receiving, and LenDale White and Reggie Bush had combined to rush for 193 yards, and Oklahoma had self-destructed on five turnovers, the message was clear.
This could well be the dawn of a Trojans' dynasty.
Pete Carroll's creation has put a unanimous national championship with last year's Associated Press title. The Trojans have won 22 straight games. They join Florida State (1999) as the only team to go wire to wire as No. 1 in the AP poll.
They scored the most points and won by the largest margin in an Orange Bowl in 52 years, back to Alabama's 61-6 smashing of Syracuse in 1953. And they did it starting 16 players who have eligibility remaining.
Including all the incendiary devices. Smith, Bush, Jarrett, White, who rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns Tuesday, a bad ankle healed just in time.
And game MVP Leinart, if he does not choose early entry into the NFL. Leinart, who succeeded a Heisman winner last season, has promptly gone 25-1. He passed for 332 yards.
History had been anticipated, but this kind?
Oklahoma had never given up so many points in any of its 37 previous bowls.
Nor had the Sooners ever allowed so many during the six golden years of Bob Stoops.
All that against an Oklahoma defense that allowed six points its last 12 quarters. But a defense with a suspect secondary, which USC gleefully exploited.
A showdown awaited all season, megahyped for a month, incessantly analyzed all week, was over by halftime.
USC led then by 38-10, the biggest first half ever in the Orange Bowl.
All the individual match-ups, each one supposedly as even as the next, tilted toward the Trojans The Heisman quarterback confrontation? Leinart had five touchdown passes. Jason White two, and three interceptions.
The tailback battle? White and Bush averaged 9.2 yards per carry. Freshman and Heisman runner-up Adrian Peterson, surrounded everywhere he went, finished with 82.
In the first half, 11 of his 15 carries were two yards or less. The unstoppable force had run into a wall.
The models of efficient offenses? The Trojans had no turnovers. The Sooners had four of their five by halftime, leading to 24 USC points.
Of the gaggle of perfect teams this season, the Trojans are the fairest of them all. Behind them in the final rankings will be 13-0 Auburn. And 12-0 Utah.
And 12-1 Oklahoma, their partner in a massive build-up for this Orange Bowl.
But in the end, USC had no peers. It is the school's 11th title.
As for Oklahoma, this makes two straight national championship games gone sour. The Sooners, with all their famed weaponry, combined for only 33 points against LSU and USC.
An early 7-7 tie - after both quarterbacks played a game of ''Can you top this?'' - quickly melted into a pool of Oklahoma turnovers.
White went 4-for-5 in the Sooners' first possession, and passed 4 yards to Travis Wilson for a touchdown.
Leinart answered by going 5-for-5, and threw a 33-yard touchdown to tight end Dominique Bird, who made a one-handed grab as he fell into the end zone.
Then came three quick Oklahoma mistakes ... and three quick USC touchdowns.
Mark Bradley fumbled a punt return at his 6 ...
LenDale White scored in one play.
Jason White put a jump ball of a pass into heavy traffic for his first interception ...
Jarrett blew past Oklahoma safety Brodney Pool and took in a 54-yard touchdown pass from Leinart.
White was intercepted by Eric Wright when Bradley slipped making a cut on his route ...
Leinart hit Smith, who had three touchdowns all season, on a 5-yard scoring pass. Smith had 113 yards receiving.
In barely six minutes, the score had gone from 7-7 to 28-7.
There would be no rally. Peterson had no room. White had no time. The margin grew, the crowd of 77,912 faded away into the night. The Orange Bowl came packaged as a classic. But was unwrapped as a slaughter.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top