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Vaunted Sooners defense hit hard

Sliced, diced, ripped, shredded.

Pick the adjective.

Any of them aptly describe the pain No. 1 Southern Cal inflicted on No. 2 Oklahoma's much-vaunted defense during its 55-19 victory Tuesday night in the Orange Bowl.

"We didn't expect it to be this easy," USC coach Pete Carroll said.

"But the game went our way from the beginning."

Entering the game, the Sooners ranked fifth in the country in scoring defense at 13.7 points per game.

But Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart threw for an Orange Bowl record five touchdowns as he improved to 25-1 as a starter.

Leinart looked nothing like the overrated quarterback for an average offense as Oklahoma defensive end Larry Birdine described him.

The junior, who did not say if he would return for his season season, finished 18-of-35 for 332 yards.

He also got plenty of help. The Trojans reached a season high for points and turned the game into a USC highlight reel.

Two receivers had more than 100 yards receiving. Steve Smith had seven catches for 113 yards and an Orange Bowl record-tying three touchdowns. Dwayne Jarrett had five for 115 yards and one touchdown. And LenDale White rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Oklahoma had given up six points in its past three games but allowed plenty of big plays.

The Trojans had 13 plays of 15 or more yards. Eight went for more than 25 yards.

Down 7-0, Leinart connected with Smith and Dominque Byrd for 14 and 17 yards. Then he found Byrd in the end zone from 33 yards.

After a fumble recovery led to a 6-yard scoring run by White, Leinart again torched the Oklahoma secondary. This time, he found Jarrett (who beat Brodney Pool after cornerback Marcus Walker bit on a play fake to Reggie Bush) for a 54-yard touchdown and 21-7 lead.

When it wasn't through the air, the Trojans did damage on the ground.

Bush broke a 45-yard run that set up Smith's second score from 33 yards.

"We got whooped," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "They made big plays in the second quarter. You can't give up big plays. You've got to rise to the occasion, and we didn't do that."

For most of the game, it appeared USC could score at will, and by halftime USC had a 38-10 lead.

"You soul search as a coach," Stoops said. "You let a guy run by you. It happens quickly. It doesn't take much for it to happen."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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