Dec. 4, 2004
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - UCLA held Heisman Trophy contender Matt Leinart in check, but Reggie Bush had two long touchdown runs, Ryan Killeen kicked five field goals and No. 1 USC held off the Bruins 29-24 Saturday to virtually lock up a trip to the Orange Bowl for the Bowl Championship Series title game.
Moments after the game ended, USC fans in both end zones threw oranges on the field and many players stayed on the field to celebrate.
It wasn't the Trojans' best performance, but it'll probably be enough.
The final BCS standings and bowl pairings will be announced Sunday. The Trojans (12-0, 8-0 Pac-10) have been ranked No. 1 all season in both The Associated Press Top 25 and coaches polls and, most importantly, the BCS standings.
USC was the odd team out last winter, when it finished atop both polls after the regular season but third in the final BCS standings. The Trojans won the AP national championship and LSU beat Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to win the BCS title.
The Trojans completed the fifth perfect regular season in school history and first since 1972, when they won the national championship. It also was USC's 15th straight Pac-10 triumph and 21st consecutive win overall. The Trojans have won 32 of their last 33 games.
Bush gained a career-high 204 yards on 15 carries - most on a 65-yard touchdown run on the game's second play and an 81-yard dash midway through the second quarter.
It was just the second game in which the explosive sophomore has rushed for more than 100 yards. He also had six receptions for 73 yards.
Leinart completed his first 10 passes for 64 yards. He wound up going 24-of-34 for 242 yards with one interception and no touchdowns - the first time in 25 career starts he has failed to throw at least one TD pass. USC is 24-1 in games started by Leinart, a junior.
Pete Carroll became the first Trojans coach to beat Notre Dame and UCLA - USC's biggest rivals - in three straight seasons.
USC has beaten the Bruins six straight times - its longest winning streak in the series, which they lead 40-27-7.
Drew Olson completed 20 of 34 passes for 278 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions for UCLA (6-5, 4-4), who will play in the Insight Bowl or the Las Vegas Bowl.
On Bush's first scoring run, he faked out Matt Clark near the UCLA 10-yard line before somersaulting into the end zone and spiking the ball to draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Killeen's 37-yard field goal on USC's second possession made it 10-0, and it appeared the rout was on.
Craig Bragg's school-record 96-yard punt return early in the second quarter cut USC's lead to 10-7. Bragg broke Kermit Alexander's 43-year-old record by two yards.
The Bruins then blew an opportunity to tie or take the lead. Chris Horton blocked Tom Malone's punt, giving UCLA the ball at the USC 19. But the Trojans held, and Justin Medlock missed a 39-yard field goal.
Bush scored his second touchdown two plays later to give USC a 17-7 lead. He broke two tackles to get into the clear, and once he did, nobody was going to catch the speedster.
UCLA drew within seven points on Medlock's 43-yard field goal, but Killeen kicked a 42-yarder with 9 seconds left before halftime and a 34-yarder midway through the third period.
The Bruins responded by going 81 yards on seven plays to draw within six points, scoring on Manuel White's 9-yard run. Killeen kicked a 36-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and a 34-yarder with 3:49 remaining - three plays after Lofa Tatupu's interception - to make it 29-17.
UCLA drew within five points with 2:20 to play on Olson's 4-yard pass to Marcedes Lewis on fourth-and-2. The Bruins got one final chance when Spencer Havner recovered a fumble by Bush at the Bruins 14 with 53 seconds left, but Jason Leach intercepted Olson on the next play.