Matt Leinart and his Southern California teammates bounced around the end zone, then broke into a victory dance. The celebration was on — and it was only halftime.
Playing to perfection, the Heisman Trophy winner threw a record five touchdown passes and the Trojans overwhelmed Oklahoma 55-19 Tuesday night in the Orange Bowl, ending the season just as they started: No. 1.
“I think we proved tonight that we are the No. 1 team in the country without a doubt,” Leinart said. “No doubt.”
Even better, there’s no one they have to share it with.
The much-anticipated battle of unbeatens, No. 1 vs. No. 2, turned into a coronation for USC, which had to settle for a share of the national championship last year after being left out of the Bowl Championship Series title game.
“We didn’t expect it to be this easy, but the game went our way from the beginning,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “I was a little surprised.”
That was no consolation for unbeaten Auburn, the odd team out of the BCS title game this season.
The Tigers (13-0) stated their case with a 16-13 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Monday night and could have done no worse than Oklahoma against Southern Cal. But they finished second in the final Associated Press poll.