AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Even Texas coach Mack Brown admits his
passing game has hit the skids.
But with Cedric Benson's hard-nosed running, combined with a
slew of Missouri (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today) mistakes, the Longhorns (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) were able to shake off a post-Oklahoma hangover Saturday with a 28-20 victory.
Benson rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns as Texas (5-1,
2-1 Big 12) won despite more shaky throwing from Vince Young and
Chance Mock, who produced just 58 yards and two interceptions.
"We cannot (pass) it any worse than we did today, and we won,"
Brown said of a team that came in ranked No. 102 nationally in
passing. "For us to throw that poorly and win says something about
the spirit of this club."
Benson overcame three fumbles -- he recovered two himself -- to
score Texas' last two touchdowns and pound out critical yards in
the fourth quarter.
"I knew my number would be called more," Benson said. "We
came out playing smash-mouth football trying to send a message."
The Tigers (4-2, 2-1) pulled within 28-20 in the fourth quarter
on Brad Smith's 1-yard TD run on fourth down, but missed the extra
point when Smith dropped the snap. They could get no closer.
Smith led the Tigers with 185 yards passing and one touchdown as
the Tigers outgained Texas 358-299 in total yards. But he also
threw two costly interceptions.
Texas defensive end Brian Robison returned the first 2 yards for
the game's first touchdown, and the second set up Benson's first
"They only had two drives on us the whole day and a couple of
great plays on defense," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel.
In each of the last five years, Texas has rebounded to win its
first game following a loss to Oklahoma. But Brown will face a slew
of new questions about his quarterbacks over the next few days.
Young, who struggled in a 12-0 loss to the Sooners, was
spectacular early against the Tigers, running for 53 yards on five
He even set up the second score with a 48-yard catch on a
reverse pass, his first career reception and second longest of the
season for the Longhorns. Later on the same drive, he bounced out
of a potential sack to scramble 23 yards for a TD to make it 14-0.
Then it started to unravel.
Missouri tied it quickly as Smith hit Sean Coffey with a 3-yard
TD pass and Damien Nash ran 33 yards untouched to score after Young
threw the first of his two first-half interceptions.
Young was intercepted again when he floated another bad pass
into a strong wind, and he was knocked out of the game when he took
a hard hit to his chest on that play.
But the Tigers blew a chance to take a lead into halftime.
Missouri moved the ball to the Texas 27, and went for it on
fourth-and-5 instead of trying a 44-yard field goal for a potential
17-14 lead. Smith's pass was intercepted by Aaron Ross, who
returned it 64 yards to the Missouri 12. Two plays later, Benson
bulled through four tackles to score, making it 21-14.
Young returned to the sideline and appeared ready to play in the
second half but Brown stuck with Mock, who also struggled to find
receivers and had more success handing off to Benson.
"We brought Cedric and the offensive line up and told them
`We're going to put the game on your shoulders," Brown said.
Soon after, Benson battled for tough yards on an 11-play scoring
drive that gave the Longhorns a 28-14 lead in the fourth.
Young said he was angry about the play that sidelined him and
wanted to get back into the game.
"I'm just upset since the guy was trying to hurt me," Young
said. "I wanted to get back in. I was mad."
Mock said he'd be ready to start if called upon next week
against Texas Tech.
"I believe I am," Mock said. "I'm a fifth-year senior now.
(But) Vince is the starter and he's perfectly capable too."