MIAMI (Ticker) -- Last season, Matt Leinart and Southern California had to share the national championship. This year, they left no doubt who is No. 1.
Leinart threw for 332 yards and an Orange Bowl-record five touchdowns - three to Steve Smith - as the top-ranked Trojans manhandled error-prone No. 2 Oklahoma, 55-19, for their 22nd consecutive victory and 11th national title.
Last campaign, the Trojans were ranked first in both the media and coaches polls but did not earn a berth in the national title game, the Sugar Bowl, after finishing third in the final Bowl Championship Series standings. They easily defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl, 28-14, but had to settle for a share of the championship with Louisiana State, which beat Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, 21-14.
"We're No. 1, champs by ourselves. This is so much better than last year," said Trojans defensive end Shaun Cody, who had five tackles, including one sack. "Winning the game (last year), we didn't know whether we would be champs or not. This year, we got the job done."
USC (13-0) went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in both polls this season behind Leinart, the unflappable lefthander who went on to win the Heisman Trophy after throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with just six interceptions.
"It's a great feeling to be back and to win the national championship," said Leinart, whose squad posted its best record in school history. "We are now unanimously No. 1. We can't be beaten and we showed that tonight as a team."
In this one, the junior completed 18-of-35 passes without an interception as he improved to 25-1 as a starter, though the game's MVP slammed the ball in disgust with himself after getting sacked by Sooners defensive tackle Lynn McGruder for a safety with 6:34 left.
"He played a fantastic game," USC coach Pete Carroll said of Leinart, who matched the school's single-game TD pass record he shared with two others. "He was really creative in the way he moved the offense tonight."
Counterpart Jason White, last year's Heisman winner, was 24-of-36 for 244 yards, two TDs and three picks for the Sooners (12-1). The sixth-year senior also had a miserable game against LSU in last year's Sugar Bowl.
"(I'm) disappointed, embarrassed, you name it," White said. "You play both seasons so well and you make it all the way to the end to what you really want, and you don't get it, and you know you left everything you had out there. I'm just disappointed and embarrassed."
Leinart and the Trojans were more than happy to capitalize on the Sooners' turnovers, converting four first-half miscues into 24 points to turn a close game into a rout and largely quiet a pro-Oklahoma crowd at Pro Player Stadium. In all, USC scored 31 points off five Oklahoma turnovers.
With the game game tied, 7-7, in the final minute of the first quarter, Sooners returner Antonio Perkins let a punt by USC's Tom Malone bounce past him at the Oklahoma 11. Sooners receiver Mark Bradley inexplicably picked it up at the 3 and immediately had the ball jarred loose by Trojans linebacker Collin Ashton. Safety Josh Pinkard recovered at the 6, and tailback LenDale White scored on the next play to give USC a 14-7 lead.
"I have no idea why Mark would have done that," Stoops said. "I was as shocked as anyone in the stadium. How do you explain that? I don't know. That goes back to Pop Warner football.
"Mark should have made a better decision. I'm not going to sit here and go any further in front of the whole media, but it's as bad a play as there is."
On Oklahoma's ensuing possession, Jason White lofted an ill-advised pass off his back foot into triple coverage around receiver Mark Clayton, and safety Jason Leach picked off the ball at the USC 11.
"It was a horrible decision on my part," White said. "I should have just threw the ball away."
Just six plays later, Leinart found receiver Dwayne Jarrett all alone down the left sideline for a 54-yard TD strike. Oklahoma cornerback Marcus Walker, like Jarrett a true freshman, had started to blitz, then suddenly stopped and could only watch in vain as safety Brodney Pool was late to cover the streaking receiver.
USC cornerback Eric Wright intercepted Jason White just three plays later at the Oklahoma 31 and ran it back to the 10, setting up Leinart's five-yard pass to Smith that made it 28-7 with 9:17 left in the second quarter.
A 33-yard pass from Leinart to Smith made it 35-10 with 1:56 left in the half, and after Sooners running back Kejuan Jones tripped and lost a fumble at the Oklahoma 35, USC's Ryan Killeen kicked a 44-yard field goal to open a stunning 28-point cushion at the break, and the rout was on.
LenDale White - who did not start due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the regular-season finale at UCLA - ran for 118 yards and two TDs on 15 carries, while Reggie Bush gained 75 yards on just six rushes. Smith had seven catches for 113 yards and Jarrett five for 115.
"They didn't do anything we didn't expect," Jason White said. "They are just a great football team."
The Trojans outgained the Sooners on the ground, 193-128, and held a 525-372 advantage overall. USC limited Heisman runner-up Adrian Peterson, a freshman phenom, to 82 yards on 25 carries.
"USC played extremely well tonight and they are certainly deserving of the national championship," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "They controlled the line of scrimmage on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. You can't make as many mistakes as we did tonight and expect to win."
Oklahoma opened the scoring on a five-yard pass from Jason White to Travis Wilson with 7:44 left in the first quarter, capping a 12-play, 92-yard drive. White was 4-of-5 for 75 yards on the drive.
USC immediately countered with a six-play, 75-yard drive, which ended on a 33-yard pass up the middle from Leinart to tight end Dominique Byrd, who made a spinning one-handed catch over linebacker Rufus Alexander. Leinart went 5-of-5 for 80 yards on the possession.