LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Southern California distanced itself from Oregon State. Now, the Trojans hope it will be enough to do the same to Louisiana State in the final Bowl Championship Series standings.
Matt Leinart threw five touchdown passes as second-ranked USC staked a claim to a berth in the Sugar Bowl and clinched its first outright Pac-10 title since 1989 with an easy 52-28 victory over the Beavers.
Cornerback Will Poole had a pair of interceptions and returned one for a touchdown for the Trojans (11-1, 7-1), who are second in the latest BCS standings and need to hold off LSU when the final results are released Sunday in order to be assured of playing for the national title in New Orleans on January 4. LSU, third in the BCS, defeated Georgia, 34-13, in the Southeastern Conference title game on Saturday night.
"It was great to close out the season the way we did," said Leinart, who completed 22-of-38 passes for 278 yards with two interceptions. "We get to go to the Rose Bowl or get a shot at the national championship game."
Oregon State (7-5, 4-4), which will play New Mexico in the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Eve, lost its 20th straight game to the Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum since its last win here in 1960. USC has won 15 straight home games overall.
"We came in wanting to make sure they couldn't run on us," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "But they are pretty smart and they spread us out. Poole's interception was hard on us."
Mike Williams and Reggie Bush each caught a pair of touchdown passes for the Trojans, who have won eight straight games and have scored 40 or more points in seven straight, a first for any Pac-10 team. Williams' second score came on a dazzling one-handed grab near the back of the end zone with a defender all over him.
"He (Leinart) probably thought he threw too high because we practice that play a lot," Williams said. "It's my job to make that play. I'm tall enough. I don't think it was the best catch I ever made. I guess I could have made it with two hands. I was just trying to have fun, though."
It was another huge day for Leinart, who has excelled in the system of offensive coordinator Norm Chow and has proven to be a worthy successor to 2002 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer. Leinart has 35 touchdown passes, breaking Palmer's Pac-10 record of 33, and broke another conference record by going 210 straight passes without an interception before he was picked off in the first quarter.
"I think we deserve to (go the Sugar Bowl), but it's not in our hands," he said. "I think we did about as much as we could do."
The Trojans were caught off guard on their first possession when Derek Anderson completed a 90-yard pass to Mike Hass that set up a one-yard TD run by Steven Jackson. But USC dominated the rest of the first half, excluding the final minute when Anderson threw a 22-yard TD pass to tight end Tim Euhus. Anderson completed 34-of-60 passes for 485 yards but threw four interceptions and the Beavers never recovered.
"We have everything you want for a national championship game," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "You have a big, exciting offense and a tough defense. I'm not taking anything away from LSU. If we go, we are going to go and let it rip."
USC answered Jackson's score with two touchdowns in a 20-second span. Leinart found Williams over the middle for a 14-yard score. Following a fumble by Euhus, Leinart lofted a 30-yard touchdown to freshman Reggie Bush up the left sideline to make it 14-7 with 10:54 left in the quarter.
Poole returned an ill-timed pass by Anderson 67 yards for a score to make it 21-7 before the Trojans capitalized on another Beavers mistake. Van Brown blocked a punt before Williams made his spectacular catch on a nine-yard pass from Leinart to make it 28-7.
Leinart made it 35-14 with a three-yard TD pass to Bush on the opening possession of the second half. The southpaw had a pass intercepted and returned for a score by Brandon Browner, but he responded a minute later with a 73-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith on a short slant pattern. Smith caught five passes for 136 yards.