BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- It's been so long since Southern
California's last loss that Matt Leinart claimed he couldn't even
remember how he felt on that strange night at Memorial Stadium.
Two years and 32 victories later, Leinart turned any lingering
memory of that exasperating triple-overtime defeat into cool
vindication -- and the site of USC's last failure became just
another routine stop on the Trojans' victory tour.
Leinart passed for 246 yards and ran for two touchdowns, and
LenDale White ran for three more scores in No. 1 USC's 22nd
straight Pac-10 victory, a 35-10 rout of slumping California on
Reggie Bush ran for 82 yards for the Trojans (10-0, 7-0), who
replaced drama with dominance while tying Cal's 1947-50 record for
consecutive conference wins. With every businesslike drive and
aggressive defensive stop, USC smoothly buried its most competitive
conference rival in recent years.
"That's a great win for us against a team that we've struggled
with for the last couple of years," Leinart said. "I don't think
we really thought about . We just wanted to make a statement
today that things are changing, and that they're going to have to
bring their best shot."
The USC defense intercepted Joe Ayoob four times and kept Cal
out of the end zone until 1:34 remained, while Leinart was nearly
flawless in his latest impressive argument for another Heisman
Trophy -- though he failed to throw a touchdown pass for just the
fourth time in 36 career starts.
Leinart, White and receiver Dwayne Jarrett all surpassed
1,000-yard statistical milestones for the season during an easy
second half. USC had its second lowest-scoring game of the season,
but few wins have been more satisfying.
"It seems like California has been right behind us for a while,
and we talked about kind of separating a little bit," coach Pete
Carroll said. "For all the right reasons, it's good to come up
here and get a win."
The Trojans haven't lost since their 34-31 defeat at Memorial
Stadium in 2003. USC avenged that loss last season at the Coliseum,
though Cal's Aaron Rodgers fell one last-minute pass shy of an
upset in USC's 23-17 victory.
USC is even better now -- and mistake-prone Cal (6-4, 3-4) is
plummeting, with four losses in its last five games. The Bears took
their largest loss in coach Jeff Tedford's four seasons, also
losing on Senior Day for the first time in his tenure.
"Our passing game was futile," said Tedford, who has sent
eight quarterbacks to the NFL in his last 12 seasons of coaching.
"That's as good as any defense has played against them this season
... but if you're one-dimensional, you can't beat USC."
USC, which clinched at least a share of another Pac-10 title,
has the sixth-longest winning streak in Division I history,
matching Miami's 32-game run from 2000-03 and an identical streak
by a 19th-century Pennsylvania team.
The Trojans have all but sewed up another Bowl Championship
Series bid, though two tough games remain. They'll host 8-1 Fresno
State next weekend, followed by Dec. 3's regular-season finale
Marshawn Lynch ran for 87 yards for the Bears, who have lost to
each of the Pac-10's three ranked teams in recent weeks. A
once-promising season has been ruined partly by the ineffectiveness
of Ayoob, who threw three of his interceptions in the first half
before finishing 9-of-19 for 98 yards.
"The hardest part is your home fans booing you, but it comes
with the territory," Ayoob said. "The guys have still got
confidence in me. I just have to get confidence back in myself."
The crowd roared when backup Steve Levy relieved Ayoob in the
fourth quarter, and Cal added a late touchdown on fullback Chris
Manderino's 1-yard run.
But the game already was decided, because the Trojans made none
of the mistakes that cost them in Berkeley two years ago. USC got
ahead early after playing from behind in 2003, and Leinart was
practically perfect after throwing three picks in the last loss.
White ran for 90 yards and surpassed 1,000 yards rushing this
season, giving USC two 1,000-yard rushers for the first time in
school history and just the second time in Pac-10 annals. Leinart
surpassed 3,000 yards passing -- and Jarrett, who caught five passes
for 69 yards, went over 1,000 yards receiving.
On the game's opening drive, USC safety Darnell Bing intercepted
Ayoob's first pass. The Trojans quickly drove for White's 1-yard TD
run, with Leinart going 7-of-7 for 50 yards along the way.
Leinart capped two second-quarter drives with scoring runs of 6
and 3 yards, pointing at USC's fans in celebration after both.
"He took a page out of me and Reggie's book," White said.
"People think that Matt is just a drop-back passer. He showed that
he can run the ball. He got in the end zone a couple of times, and
they weren't easy runs. That's what big-time players do in those
White added a short scoring run in the third quarter and another
in the fourth to put USC up 35-3.
Both teams accused the other of dirty play in the rivalry game,
with USC complaining about Cal's personal fouls in the fourth
"That's the best defense we've played all year, but by far the
cheapest," Cal guard Aaron Merz said. "I got spit on. I make a
good block, and the guy spits on me. I saw that too many times
today. It's disgusting. I got poked in the eye. They had their
hands in our facemasks all day."
Nike Youth USC Trojans #15 Cardinal Football Game JerseyShop
Houston could make the playoff. Or it could be eliminated from contention on Sept. 3. Such is life for a Group of 5 team hoping to crash the Power 5 party. And it all starts against Oklahoma.
The Oregon Ducks will put their new quarterbacks on display as well as give a first look at their new 4-3 defense under coordinator Brady Hoke.
With more evaluation, prospects like OLB Jaelan Phillips and others proved worthy of moving into or jumping in the player rankings.
It's no surprise that Alabama and LSU appear to be the strongest up front on defense in the SEC at this point.
In Da'Wan Hunte, Purdue features a defender who likely locked up a starting position at an opportune moment in his career.
Baylor lineman/curiosity LaQuan McGowan wants a shot at the NFL, but if that doesn't pan out he might consider the WWE as an alternative.