PASADENA, California (Ticker) -- Matt Leinart did everything for Southern California this season except catch a touchdown pass. Now, he's done that as well.
Leinart capped a spectacular sophomore season by catching a 15-yard touchdown pass from receiver Mike Williams as the top-ranked Trojans staked a claim to at least a share of a national championship with a 28-14 victory over No. 4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
While the winner of Sunday's Sugar Bowl between No. 2 Louisiana State and No. 3 Oklahoma will win the BCS title, the Trojans (12-1) will be voted No. 1 in the media poll following another dominant effort.
It would be USC's first championship since sharing the crown with Alabama in 1978. The Trojans finished the season with an eight-game winning streak.
"We do (feel like we should be national champions)," Leinart said. "We really do feel like that. I think it's quite clear we did everything we could this season."
"As a member of the coaches' association and the BCS, I'm committed to vote the winner of the Sugar Bowl as the national champion," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "If I was a member of the media, you could make a case for Southern Cal. You could make me an honorary member (of the media)."
Leinart and Williams, the top passing tandem in the country, reversed roles for the clinching score. Leinart took a perfect screen pass from fellow southpaw Williams and walked into the end zone to make it 28-7 with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
"We've been working on that one all month and preparing for it," Leinart said. "I knew I was going to catch it and Mike threw a great ball to me."
Williams caught 16 of Leinart's 38 TD passes this season.
Coming in, Michigan (10-3) had given up only five TDs passes all season but surrendered four to USC.
Leinart, who completed 23-of-34 passes for 331 yards, tossed three TDs as USC opened a 21-0 lead early in the third quarter.
With the Wolverines double-teamming Williams, Keary Colbert caught six passes for 148 yards, including TDs of 25 and 47 yards. Leinart also threw a six-yard TD strike to Lendale White.
Despite the tight coverage, Williams finished with eight receptions for 88 yards.
The Trojans harassed Michigan quarterback John Navarre throughout, sacking him nine times. In their first 12 games, the Wolverines surrendered just 15 sacks.
"A lot of teams blitz in the Big Ten," Navarre said. "We didn't put it in the game plan that they would come as much as they did."
Navarre, who was 27-of-46 for 271 yards, capped an eight-minute drive with a five-yard TD strike to Tim Massaquoi that pulled the Wolverines within 21-7 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.
But USC answered with a 72-yard drive that took just over two minutes.