Dominant Trojans need help for championship dream

Updated: October 19, 2003, 3:47 PM ET

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- USC coach Pete Carroll had something else on his mind after watching the fifth-ranked Trojans totally dominate Notre Dame for the second straight year.

It wasn't anything that happened during the 45-14 victory at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday that bothered him. He was still thinking back to the 34-31 loss to California in triple overtime on Sept. 27.

"It sickens me because our football team is capable of being undefeated at this time, but we played poorly one time," Carroll said.

Instead of being in control of their destiny, the Trojans (6-1) need help to get to the Sugar Bowl for the national championship game. They'll know exactly how much help they'll need when the Bowl Championship Series standings come out Monday.

Carroll is not worried, though.

"I don't care where we are in the polls. I just want to keep winning," he said.

It's a formula that worked well for the Trojans last year, when they overcame early season losses to Kansas State and Washington State and beat Iowa in the Orange Bowl to finish the season ranked No. 4 -- their best finish since being ranked No. 2 in 1979.

Carroll is pleased with the way the Trojans responded to the loss at Cal, averaging 42 points a game against Arizona State, Stanford and Notre Dame (2-4) while giving up just 17 points a game.

"They have been terrific ballgames for us," he said. "We've been physical, tough on defense and the quarterback has just played beautifully."

Matt Leinart, who replaced Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer, has thrown for 1,824 yards and 17 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. His passing efficiency rating of 155.9 places him 10th in the nation.

Leinart credits receivers Mike Williams (106.1 yards a game) and Keary Colbert (79.7 yards).

"We have two guys who are just awesome receivers, I think the best receiving tandem in the country," Leinart said. "You can't key on one guy because the other guy is going to hurt you."

Williams said the Trojans came out against Notre Dame looking to show the nation how good they are.

"We wanted to prove a point, that we were going to win for a long time," he said. "We are going to be successful wherever we go."

The Trojans certainly were successful Saturday as they won at Notre Dame for just the second time since 1983. More impressive, though, was the second straight win by 31 points -- the first time either team has dominated so totally in successive years in the 75-game rivalry between the schools.

"It's no fluke," Carroll said. "We're a pretty good football team. We can play good football and go into any setting to do that."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index