<
>

Benson rushes for 189 yards

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Cedric Benson has never had so much fun so
early in a season.

Texas' senior tailback ran for 189 yards and a touchdown -- his
third straight game of more than 180 yards in the nation's top
rushing attack -- and the Longhorns rolled over Rice 35-13 Saturday
night.

"This is fun," said Benson, a slow starter in his first three
seasons but who now ranks behind only Ricky Williams and Earl
Campbell as Texas' career rushing leaders.

"I was really seeing the field," he said. "You can't say
enough about the offensive line. Those guys paved the way for us
and we're all enjoying it together."

Benson did most of his damage in the first half, piling up 169
yards on 18 carries. He regularly broke tackles at the line of
scrimmage to get into open space in the secondary. His second run
went for 57 yards to set up the first of Vince Young's three
touchdown passes.

"We're a power running team right now," Texas coach Mack Brown
said. "Cedric was tremendous."

The Longhorns (3-0) have won 37 of the last 38 meetings with
Rice (2-1).

The latest win was steady if unspectacular and just the kind of
game Texas wanted as the Longhorns fight the urge to look ahead to
their Oct. 9 matchup against No. 2 Oklahoma in Dallas.

"We felt like we got what we needed," Brown said. "To stay
undefeated was the most important thing coming out of tonight."

Brown's only worry was how long to play his star tailback and
risk injury. Benson got the ball only two times in the second half
before heading to the bench.

Benson is the first Texas back to rush for more than 100 yards
in the first three games of the season since Ricky Williams in
1996.

Rice came in with the nation's No. 1 rushing defense, giving up
just 7.5 yards per game in wins over pass-happy Houston and Hawaii.

Reality set in quickly against Texas. Benson had 126 yards in
the first quarter.

"We feel we can run against anybody, game in and game out,"
offensive tackle Justin Blalock said.

"They really swamped us," said Rice coach Ken Hatfield. "They
are big, they are very physical and they made a lot of things
happen in the running game."

While the Longhorns were grinding out 339 yards on the ground,
Young's three touchdown passes were a career high, all of them
going to tight ends Bo Scaife and David Thomas.

The first came on a 10-yarder to Scaife, who hung on after
taking a ferocious hit in the end zone for a 7-0 lead on the
Longhorns' opening drive.

After Benson's 2-yard TD run made it 14-3, Young found Thomas
open in the end zone behind two defenders for a 22-yard scoring
strike.

Thomas snagged a 49-yard TD in the third, finishing the play by
running over the Owls' Chad Price at the goal line.

Young has six touchdown passes this season, all to tight ends or
running backs.

"We know it's hard to stop the tight ends, especially when you
have two good ones in there," Scaife said. "We expect to go out
and make plays."

The Longhorns also added a little trickery late in the first
half.

Tony Jeffery, a wide receiver and the holder on extra points and
field goals, picked up the snap on a 19-yard attempt and dove over
the left side of the line for a TD that made it 28-3.

Rice, one of the few teams that still uses the wishbone, drove
59 yards for Brennan Landry's 39-yard field goal on its first
possession.

The Texas defense and coordinator Greg Robinson, who spent the
last 14 years in the NFL and hasn't coached against the wishbone
since his days in college, quickly adjusted to stop it.

The Owls picked up just 25 more yards the rest of the half as
linebacker Derrick Johnson and the Longhorns' other speedy
defenders chased Rice ballcarriers from sideline to sideline.

Johnson had eight tackles, including three behind the line of
scrimmage. He also broke up a pass when he jumped so high over a
blocker that the ball bounced off his helmet and ricocheted about
30 feet in the air.

The Owls' only touchdown came on Joel Armstrong's 44-yard run
late in the fourth quarter when the Texas starters were resting on
the bench.

"(The wishbone) had us all concerned," Robinson said. "For
the most part, we were able to handle the complexity of that
offense. That said, we'd just as soon move on."