Senior WR Colbert outshines All-American Williams in Rose Bowl
Posted: Thursday January 1, 2004 10:19PM; Updated: Friday January 2, 2004 12:40AM
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Keary Colbert made the highlight-reel catches in USC's biggest game of the season, not Mike Williams.
Colbert, often overshadowed by his All-America teammate, had six receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns Thursday in the top-ranked Trojans' 28-14 victory over No. 4 Michigan.
Williams made eight catches for 88 yards, but Colbert stole the show in his final game for Southern California.
"The man had a big-time game. I'm glad he had a chance to get out and have the game he had, that he left on the note he did," said Williams, a sophomore. "My job about 80 percent of the game was to be the decoy guy. I had no problem with that."
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr knew Colbert was a big threat.
"Mike Williams gets a lot of the publicity, but the truth is, Colbert is an outstanding football player," Carr said. "He's a tough, tenacious competitor. He made some great plays."
Colbert, a four-year starter, made an over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone early in the game, then fought off a defensive back to make a one-handed grab on his way to another score just after halftime.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound wide receiver wrapped up his career with 207 catches, breaking Kareem Kelly's school record of 204.
"I feel like my greatest accomplishment was to be able to help us win and be able to say that we're No. 1," Colbert said.
USC coach Pete Carroll was considerably more effusive about Colbert's role.
"Mike played a strong game, but Keary made a couple of tremendous catches," Carroll said. "Keary was just a star today."
Colbert put the Trojans in front to stay on their first series of the game, catching a 25-yard touchdown pass from MVP Matt Leinart.
The Trojans' receiver got a half-step on cornerback Markus Curry, Leinart lofted the ball and Colbert reached out and softly pulled it in.
Colbert's second score, on a 47-yard catch and run early in the third quarter, gave USC a 21-0 lead.
He was fighting off defensive back Jeremy LeSueur most of the way on the pass route. Colbert caught the ball at the 24, nestling it between his right arm and his body because LeSueur was hanging onto his left arm.
As Colbert squeezed the ball to his chest, LeSueur fell down, and Colbert was alone the rest of the way to the end zone.
LeSueur was called for pass interference, but USC of course declined the penalty.
"That one should be preserved at USC forever," Carroll said. "Keary showed that we could come back in the third quarter and get it done.
"That was when we separated ourselves from them."
Colbert said his catch was "not nearly so spectacular" as the one-handed gem Williams made in the back of the end zone against Oregon State in the regular-season finale.
Asked about his school record for receptions, Colbert smiled and said, "Mike is definitely going to break that record next year."
The win virtually assures the Trojans of a share of their first national title since 1978. They finished the regular season at No. 1 in The Associated Press poll. The coaches also had USC at No. 1, but they are obligated to vote the national title to the winner of the BCS championship game between Oklahoma and LSU.
The writers' final vote will be tabulated after the Jan. 4 BCS title game.