HONOLULU (AP) -- Matt Leinart and Southern California played as
though the Orange Bowl never ended.
The Heisman Trophy winner threw for 332 yards and three
touchdowns, and top-ranked USC started its quest for a third
straight national championship with a 63-17 victory over Hawaii on
"I thought I did OK," Leinart said. "I'm just doing my job."
The Trojans' 23rd straight win went a lot like their 22nd -- a
55-19 demolition of Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl in January that
featured five TD passes by Leinart and capped a 13-0 season.
Dwayne Jarrett caught three touchdown passes for USC, including
a 28-yarder that helped Leinart break Carson Palmer's USC record of
72 touchdown passes. Leinart now has 74. His only hiccup in the
game was a timing pass intended for the 6-foot-5 Jarrett that was
intercepted by Hawaii's 6-foot cornerback Kenny Patton in the end
Leinart, who sat out the fourth quarter, looked poised and
sharp, going 18-for-24 with scoring passes of 22, 28 and 67 yards.
The big lefty, who shocked the football world by passing up a
chance to be the first pick in the NFL draft to return for his
senior season, is now 26-1 as a starter.
"I don't ever regret my decision," Leinart said. "I don't
think twice about it."
The Warriors (0-1) kept it respectable until the Trojans erupted
for four touchdowns in the third quarter, including two scores in
10 seconds, to take a 49-10 lead.
USC went on to put up the most points it has scored since 1989,
when the Trojans scored 66 on Utah State.
"They did a beautiful job," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "We
did a really nice job with the offense and I'm real pleased with
Reggie Bush's 1-yard touchdown run gave USC a 42-10 lead before
50,000 sun-baked fans at Aloha Stadium, the first sellout since
2002. On the ensuing kickoff, returner Mikhail Kafentzis was
stripped and Desmond Reed picked up the ball and ran 15 yards for
another score that gave USC the 39-point cushion.
Bush, a Heisman finalist, rushed 12 times for 86 yards and two
touchdowns, including a 41-yard score that put the Trojans up 21-3
at the break. He found a hole, juked the cornerback and ran down
the left sideline and made an acrobatic dive into the end zone in
front of the cheering USC band.
"I give him a 10 because he took off from far away," Leinart
Bush said it was mission accomplished in Hawaii.
"This was a small step in our task [for a three-peat]," he
Steve Smith had seven receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown
Hawaii, known for its quick-strike passing offense, used its
rare running game including option plays, to keep Leinart and
company off the field for much of the first quarter. The Trojan's
offense, featuring eight returning starters, didn't take the field
until more than 13 minutes had past, though thanks to a 65-yard
interception return for a touchdown by Darnell Bing, USC still had
a 7-3 lead.
When the USC offense finally made its first appearance of the
season, it didn't waste time.
Leinart found a wide-open Jarrett for a 22-yard scoring play,
capping an 8-play, 76-yard drive that took 2:38 and put the Trojans
up by 11.
Freshman Dan Kelly kicked a 30-yard field goal to get Hawaii on
the scoreboard. It would be the only points for Hawaii until Bryan
Maneafaiga scored on a swing pass from Colt Brennan that went 27
yards to cut USC's lead 28-10 in the third quarter.
Hawaii used two untested quarterbacks in Brennan, a junior
college transfer and the backup to Leinart at Mater Dei High in
Orange County, Calif., and second-year freshman Tyler Graunke. Both
made their Division I debut.
Brennan went 21-for-32 for 250 yards and a touchdown. Graunke
had 127 yards passing and led the Warriors with 43 rushing yards on
"It's disappointing, obviously, we lost," he said. "But at
least we were playing with them physically, they're the national
champions. We just made too much errors, and they capitalized."
Ross Dickerson caught five passes for 116 yards for Hawaii, and
the Warriors controlled the ball for 33:12 minutes, compared to
USC's 26:48. Not that it mattered much.
The enthusiastic, pompon waving USC fans, who made the voyage
across the Pacific, made their presence felt creating a sea of
cardinal and gold in the stands to watch Hawaii's eight-game
winning streak at Aloha Stadium end.