Coverage: ABC Regional coverage
12:00 PM ET, November 1, 2003
Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The punishing running game. The stifling defense. Texas gave Nebraska a sense of what humiliation feels like.
With Cedric Benson rushing for 174 yards and three touchdowns and a dominating defensive effort, the No. 16 Longhorns' 31-7 win on Saturday had the feel of what Nebraska (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) usually does to opponents.
Michigan must be prepared when Texas QB Vince Young scrambles into the open field.
"We called it a graveyard game," Benson said. "We wanted to bury this game. We're a good team, an excellent team. We're one of the best in the nation."
Benson was finally at his best. A 1,000-yard rusher the last two seasons, he had all but disappeared in Texas' big games this year, and missed the previous game against Baylor after he was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing.
"It felt good to get back on the field," said Benson, who didn't start but finished with 28 carries. "My week off helped me get my mind where it needed to be."
He found his old form against the Cornhuskers by powering through tackles at the line and breaking outside for big gains. His fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 5 and 12 yards snuffed out any Nebraska hopes for a rally.
"Everybody eventually has their day," Nebraska linebacker Demorrio Williams said. "Today was his."
This was not a one-man show, though. The Longhorns dominated like Nebraska used to.
Freshman quarterback Vince Young ran for 163 yards and a touchdown. The Texas defense resembled Nebraska's blackshirt squads of old, holding the Huskers to 175 totals yards -- 53 on the ground.
Lord ran for 234 yards against Texas (7-2, 4-1 Big 12) last year. On Saturday he was dropped for a 5-yard loss on Nebraska's third play from scrimmage, the first of 16 tackles for losses.
The Longhorns' speed covered the option from sideline to sideline and a strong rush from tackles Rod Wright and Marcus Tubbs plugged the middle and chased Lord around the pocket, sacking him five times.
"Our offense has the ability to score on any given drive" Lord said. "But today we took a step back. Nothing worked today."
Nebraska (7-2, 3-2) managed eight first downs and crossed midfield just twice in the second half.
"All week long, we heard they were a great defense and we were soft," safety Michael Huff said. "We wanted to prove we have a better defense than they do."
Texas had heard a lot snickers about being soft after losses to Arkansas and Oklahoma. Longhorns coach MackBrown said there's no question his team is tough.
"I don't think anybody will question it today,"Brown said. "When you hold Nebraska to 53 yards rushing, that's phenomenal ... I haven't seen us play this good in a long time."
Texas led 7-0 on Benson's first TD, a 1-yard run in the first quarter in which Texas held the ball for 11 minutes and pounded out 125 yards on the ground. Nebraska never recovered from the early pounding.
"I saw they were fatigued in the first quarter," Benson said. "When you're pounding that football in there like we were, it can break you quick."
Young made it 14-0 in the second with a 65-yard sprint for a touchdown. He ran left, turned up field and got a great block from wide receiver Roy Williams who took out two defenders.
Texas added a 24-yard field goal by Dusty Mangum in the third and threatened to finish the game early in the fourth when Young led the 'Horns to the Nebraska 10. But he threw a pass that was picked off by Josh Bullocks.
The Cornhuskers responded with Lord's 48-yard touchdown pass to Matt Herian that cut the lead to 17-7. The TD allowed Nebraska to avoid its first shutout since 1996.
Texas answered with a 71-yard drive for Benson's second touchdown, a 5-yard run with 7:29 left. Benson did most of the damage, picking up 39 yards on one carry as the offensive line continued to pound away at the Nebraska defense.
The Nebraska loss jumbled the Big 12 North standings, where the Cornhuskers started the weekend as the only team with one conference loss.