BERKELEY, California – Senior Matt Leinart easily avenged his only defeat as Southern California's starting quarterback. Leinart passed for 246 yards and ran for a pair of scores as the top-ranked Trojans extended their winning streak to 32 games with a 35-10 victory over Pac-10 Conference rival California.
Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, improved to 35-1 as a starter for the Trojans, losing only in Berkeley in triple overtime two years ago. USC almost lost to the Golden Bears at home in 2002 and 2004.
"It was a great win for USC," Leinart said. "Cal's been trouble the past couple years."
Trojan running back LenDale White ran for 90 yards and three touchdowns for USC (10-0, 7-0 Pac-10), which won its 22nd straight conference game, tying the league record set by Cal from 1947-50. With the win, USC gained at least a share of the Pac-10 title. The Trojans conclude their season vs. Fresno State and league foe UCLA.
"A share of the Pac-10 doesn't mean anything," White said. "Our goal is to win the Pac-10 and Rose Bowl."
Just over three minutes into the contest, Trojans safety Darnell Bing intercepted Cal junior quarterback Joe Ayoob at the Cal 47, leading to a one-yard TD run by White with 7:15 left in the opening quarter.
After a 45-yard field goal by Cal sophomore kicker Tom Schneider four minutes later, USC opened a 14-3 lead on a six-yard run by Leinart with 8:32 left in the half. Leinart, who improved to 35-1 as a starter, made it 21-3 with a three-yard keeper 5 1/2 minutes later.
Leinart completed 15-of-21 passes for 171 yards in the first half, while Ayoob went 6-of-13 for 55 yards and three interceptions.
"You can't afford to be one-dimensional against USC," Cal head coach Jeff Tedford said. "We were not clicking in the passing game (and) turned the football over too many times."
"He wasn't the same guy we've seen on film," USC coach Pete Carroll said of Ayoob. "I don't know if he was banged up or what, but he did struggle and we were able to take advantage of it."
White extended the advantage to 28-3 on a six-yard run less than 3 1/2 minutes into the second half, and Schneider was wide left on a 41-yard field-goal attempt with 8:15 to play in the period.
After a fourth interception from Ayoob to start the fourth quarter, this time by USC's Ryan Ting at the goal line, White capped a 13-play, 97-yard drive with a two-yard run with 7:43 to play.
The Trojans outgained the Bears (6-3, 3-3), 434-299, including 246-132 through the air.
"California has been kind of right behind us for a while, and we talked about putting some separation between us," Carroll said. "And we did this game."
Leinart finished 20-of-32 with one interception for the Trojans, who held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. Ayoob was 6-of-16 for 55 yards before being replaced by Steve Levy, who went 4-of-4 for 34 yards.
"When I have my good games, I make the big plays in the beginning and get comfortable," Ayoob said. "That didn't happen today."