LOS ANGELES (ESPN.com news services) -- Run, Reggie, run -- all the way to the Rose
Bowl and probably with the Heisman Trophy in tow.
A step away from playing for an unprecedented third straight
national title, Reggie Bush and No. 1 Southern California stomped
into the championship game by overpowering their crosstown rivals
Bush ran for 260 yards and two touchdowns in a 66-19 victory
over No. 11 UCLA, the 34th consecutive win for the top-ranked
Trojans and 16th straight against a ranked opponent.
Now only Texas stands between USC (12-0, 8-0 Pac-10) and a
perfectly historic season.
"This is the type of season we wanted from Day One," Bush
said. "This is the type of season we envisioned. We were able to
make it come true, it's a great feeling."
Just about the time the unbeaten and second-ranked Longhorns
were wrapping up a 70-3 victory over Colorado in the Big 12 title
game that will send them to the Rose Bowl, USC was starting its own
victory march to Pasadena.
The Bowl Championship Series will make it official on Sunday:
Trojans vs. Longhorns on Jan. 4 in the national title game.
USC has had its close calls in 2005, most notably against Notre
Dame and Fresno State, but the Trojans brought back memories of
their 55-19 beating of Oklahoma in last year's national title game
with their performance against UCLA (9-2, 6-2).
"We've done everything we can do to this point, we've done it
with a little flair, and a little bit of drama along the way," USC
coach Pete Carroll said. "This game was an exclamation point for
this 12-game run."
The festivities at the Coliseum started with a warm farewell to
a senior class that's been part of one of the greatest dynasties in
college football history. Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart was
last to be honored with a long standing ovation before USC and UCLA
played for the 75th time.
From there, it was Bush's day.
Against the 115th-ranked run defense in the country, USC made
its intentions clear for the start. Keep it simple and let Bush put
a punctuation mark on his Heisman campaign. No doubt both Bush and
Leinart will be in New York next Saturday when the big bronze
trophy is handed out. And after the way Bush finished off the
regular season, it certainly seems like it's his turn hold the
"Reggie's got my vote," Leinart said.
On the second play from scrimmage, Bush zipped off tackle for 28
yards. USC ended up driving 70 yards on 16 plays without completing
a pass. UCLA held the Trojans to a 35-yard field goal by Mario
Danelo. It was a small victory and one of the few UCLA would be
able to chalk up in its seventh straight loss to USC.
When asked about Bush going to the NFL, his stepfather, LaMar Griffin, told ABC: "It's time to take it to the next level."
Leinart started the game 0-for-5, looking overanxious in his
final home game. He finished it 21-for-40 for 233 yards with three
"I was a little tight out there in the first half, you know it
was an emotional day," Leinart said. "I was off, obviously."
More importantly, though, he ran his record as a starter to 37-1
thanks to a running game that piled up 430 yards, USC's most since
1989, and a defense that stymied one of the best offenses in the
"We were just on fire," Bush said. "We knew we can do
whatever we wanted against these guys as long as we execute.
Hopefully, that confidence will be able to carry over to the Rose
USC was backed up with a third-and-10 at its own 3 at the start
of the second quarter, when Bush found a huge lane off the left end
and streaked down the sideline for 65 yards.
With that play, LenDale White, Bush's running mate, said he
"knew it was a rout."
White ran for a 19-yard touchdown moments late to make it 17-0.
He finished with 154 yards rushing on 14 carries as USC went over
300 yards rushing for the fifth time this season. White, the burly
thunder to Bush's lightning, scored three touchdowns to break
Charles White's school record with 54 for his career.
UCLA fumbled the ensuing kickoff away to USC and Bush, who
carried 24 times, went back to work.
He hurdled over a tackler for a 13-yard score to make it 24-0,
and later slipped a UCLA defender in the backfield and scored from
10 yards out to put USC up 31-6 at the half.
"If Reggie Bush didn't show it today, I don't know what the
heck else he has to do," Carroll said about Bush winning the
Heisman. "What an incredible job of seizing the moment by him in
the last couple of weeks."
Bush's latest jaw-dropping performance came two weeks after he
set a school-record with 513 all-purpose yards, a career-high 295
rushing, in a thrilling 50-42 victory over Fresno State.
In an up-and-down season for the USC defense, the Fresno State
game was a low point. On Saturday, defensive end Lawrence Jackson
and his crew responded with their best performance of the season.
They had five sacks, three by Jackson, held an offense averaging
40 points a game out of the end zone for the first 56 minutes and
even scored a TD when Justin Wyatt returned a fumble 38 yards to
make it 45-6 in the third quarter.
"Our defense was on the field too long," UCLA coach Karl
Dorrell said. "We played catch up with our offense and that was a
Drew Olson, the nation's leader in pass efficiency coming in,
finished 14-for-32 for 146 yards and a touchdown, and the Bruins
entered the fourth quarter with 166 total yards.
"I'm disappointed and embarrassed," Olson said. "We came in
to put up a good fight and the opposite happened."
Meanwhile, what very well might be the best offense college
football has ever seen racked up 679 yards -- with its All-American
quarterback having an off day.
USC called a timeout with its offense on the field early in the
fourth quarter to give Leinart, who passed up big NFL bucks to
return for his senior season, a chance to receive one more ovation
and hugs from his teammates.
"It's been perfect so far," Leinart said. "This is everything
I dreamed of coming back (for)."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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