7:00 PM ET, September 25, 2004
Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, AUSTIN, TX
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."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-13||5-10|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-2|
|TD||12:02||BO SCAIFE 10 YD PASS FROM VINCE YOUNG (DUSTY MANGUM KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||8:10||BRENNAN LANDRY 39 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 59 yards.
|TD||4:13||CEDRIC BENSON 2 YD RUN (DUSTY MANGUM KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||1:23||DAVID THOMAS 22 YD PASS FROM VINCE YOUNG (DUSTY MANGUM KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||9:35||TONY JEFFERY 3 YD RUN (DUSTY MANGUM KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||0:18||BRENNAN LANDRY 23 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 17 yards.
|TD||11:22||DAVID THOMAS 49 YD PASS FROM VINCE YOUNG (DUSTY MANGUM KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 56 yards.
|TD||2:21||JOEL ARMSTRONG 44 YD RUN (BRENNAN LANDRY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 56 yards.