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Tech suffers first loss this season with 52-17 pounding

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- As Billy Pittman cruised into the end zone
with a 75-yard touchdown pass, Vince Young struck a pose. Hands on
hips and chest out, Superman style, the Texas quarterback soaked in
the roar of an adoring crowd.

Less than two minutes into the second half, another Longhorn
landslide was in the making.

Young threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and No. 2
Texas handed the 10th-ranked Red Raiders their first loss of the
season Saturday, a 52-17 victory that should do nothing but help
the Longhorns' run for the Rose Bowl.

Trying to start 7-0 for the first time since 1976 and move into
national title contention, the high-scoring Red Raiders (6-1, 3-1)
couldn't keep up with the Longhorns (7-0, 4-0).

But that should be no surprise at this point. Other than a
three-point win at Ohio State, Texas' average margin of victory is
37 points.

Brown said at the beginning of the season he felt defending
national champ Southern California was a worthy No. 1 but no team
could rightfully lay claim to No. 2.

"Now I think this team definitely deserves to be No. 2 in the
country," Brown said after Texas' 14th straight victory.

Cody Hodges, coming off a 643-yard passing day against Kansas
State, did his best to keep the Red Raiders from getting blown off
the field. The fifth-year senior went 42-for-64 for 369 yards and
two touchdown passes.

"When you play a team like Texas you have to eliminate ...
mental mistakes," Hodges said. "And we shot ourselves in the foot
early on offense."

Texas withstood the barrage of short passes from Tech's Air
Raid, made a couple of momentum changing special teams plays in the
first half and countered with a balanced and relentless attack led
by Young.

The Heisman Trophy contender threw two early interceptions,
matching a career high, but finished 12-for-22 for 239 yards. More
comfortable in the pocket these days, the 235-pound speedster ran
just seven times for 45 yards and used that smooth stride on a
10-yard TD run to make it 45-17 in the third quarter.

Young gave his performance a C+ and said in the past throwing
two picks might have crushed his confidence.

"But now I'm more mature and understand the game and have more
faith in my defense," he said.

Young graded out much better to Brown.

"You score 52 points, no I don't think C+ is fair," Brown
said. "That shows you the standard this team is trying to play
to."

The Longhorns were second behind USC in the first Bowl
Championship Series standings released this week. After snapping
Texas Tech's eight-game winning streak, that spot seems safe.

USC improved to 7-0 with 51-24 win over Washington to keep the
Trojans and Longhorns on track for a date in the BCS title game.

"Of course we're biased out there with the Pac-10. So if we
could have USC and Texas, it would be just special," said David
Davis, chief of the Rose Bowl football committee, in Austin on
Saturday. "It would be as good a game as we could hope for."

And with Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas up next for the
Longhorns, it might be a while before Texas faces another
challenge. Maybe in the season finale at Texas A&M? Or maybe in
Pasadena on Jan. 4?

"To be a team that has a chance to win all their games, you
can't think that way," Brown said.

Safety Michael Huff summed it up this way: "Every Big 12 games
is a hurdle. We just have to play every game like it's a national
championship [game]."

The Texas Tech-Texas matchup hasn't been much to get excited
about through the years with the Longhorns holding a 40-14 lead in
the series. But this season's visit by the Red Raiders turned out
to be the most anticipated game in Austin in several years.

Coach Mike Leach had Tech in the top 10 for the first time since
1977, and never before had the Raiders and Longhorns faced each
other with perfect records this late in the season.

Tech also still had much to prove after scoring 54 points per
game against sketchy competition. The Raiders weren't up to the
challenge and the Longhorns led 31-10 at half.

"This is the best Texas team I have played," Leach said. "The
margin of error gets narrower and today when it came down to those
points, we collapsed, which is disappointing."

Quan Cosby's 38-yard punt return set up Texas at the Tech 8, and
270-pound freshman Henry Melton scored from a yard out moments
later to give the Longhorns a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter.

Leach played it uncharacteristically conservative on a
fourth-and-5 from the Texas 35 midway through the second quarter
and down by seven, choosing to try to draw the Longhorns offside
instead of going for the first down. It didn't work, and neither
did the Raiders' punt.

Ian Smetona's snap sailed to the right and punter Alex Reyes
couldn't catch it. Reyes tried to get the kick off but Michael
Griffin blocked it and sent the ball flying out of bounds at the
Raiders' 23.

"It was disheartening to see that happen," Tech receiver
Jarrett Hicks said.

This time it took just two plays for Texas to convert. Young
rolled right, then pulled back and flipped a 15-yard TD pass to
Pittman to make it 24-10.

The Red Raiders were poised to answer the score, driving to a
first-and-goal at the 3. But Hodges passed into traffic, the ball
bounced off Aaron Harris' facemask and into Tim Crowder's arms for
an interception.

The turnover hurt even more after Texas went 88 yards on four
plays and went up 21 points on Selvin Young's second TD run of the
game, a 7-yarder.

"Texas deserves a lot of attention," Hodges said, "and they
have a chance to run the table and win it all."

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