No. 7 Texas 65, North Texas 0
AUSTIN, Texas -- By controlling both the line of scrimmage and field position, the No. 7 Longhorns raced out to a 44-0 halftime lead and defeated North Texas 65-0 at Darrel K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. It is the biggest margin of victory ever for the Longhorns under head coach Mack Brown, and marks the fifth straight season-opening home win for UT in the Brown era.
The 23rd-consecutive sellout crowd of 82,956 watched the Longhorns outgain North Texas 673-130. Texas piled up 513 yards on the ground, a record-high under Brown, shattering the previous high of 396 set in 2000 against Kansas.
"North Texas was a good team, they won their conference last year," said Brown. "Obviously we have better players, but our guys did what we asked them to do. The defense was good and we forced turnovers because of our phyical play. We're running better and kicking better, and did what we needed done."
Individually, the Longhorns were led by its pair of senior preseason All-Americans, running back Cedric Benson and linebacker Derrick Johnson. Benson ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while Johnson forced three first-half North Texas fumbles, all of which were recovered by the Longhorns defense.
North Texas started on or inside its own twenty on its first five possessions and were limited to just 45 total yards on those drives. Mean Green senior running back Patrick Cobbs, who led the nation in rushing last season with 152.7 yards per game, was limited to -1 yards on eight first half carries.
On its first five possessions, the Longhorns had an average starting field position of its own 48 and UT also scored on all of them, as the ground game got three scores from three different running backs, and senior kicker Dusty Mangum added a pair of field goals. Overall, Texas scored on eight of its nine first half possessions, with the rushing attack leading the way, picking up 258 yards before halftime, with five rushing touchdowns.
After the UT defense limited the North Texas offense to one yard on the first drive of the game, Benson didn't waste any time in kicking off his senior campaign in fine fashion. An interference penalty on the ensuing punt enabled the Longhorns to take possession at the North Texas 38, and on UT's first offensive play, Benson hurdled a North Texas defender at the line of scrimmage, then raced untouched into the end zone, giving the Longhorns a 7-0 lead with 12:49 left in the quarter.
North Texas went three-and-out on its second possession as the UT defense continued to swarm around Cobbs every time he touched the ball. The Longhorns started in Mean Green terrority again on its second possession. After one first down though, the UT drive stalled at the North Texas 20. Senior kicker Dusty Mangum connected on a 37-yard field goal, giving UT the 10-0 lead with 9:43 left to play in the first quarter.
On its third possession of the game, North Texas was once again held without a first down, giving the Longhorns more prime real estate, as UT started on its own 44. Mixing the pass in with the run, the Longhorns drove 56 yards on eight plays, as sophomore running back Selvin Young (12 carries, 102 yards, two touchdowns) finished the drive off with a 16-yard touchdown, cutting out to the right side, and running over a pair of Mean Green defenders inside the five. Young's first touchdown of the season gave the Longhorns a 17-0 lead with 4:21 left in the first.
Finally on its fourth possession, North Texas seemed to gain some momentum on offense, picking up a pair of first downs on 19-yard completions from quarterback Scott Hall. But on the second completion, Johnson forced his first fumble of the game, stripping the ball loose from North Texas sophomore wideout Zach Muzzy at the UT 42, which was recovered by Longhorn junior defensive end Kaelen Jakes at the UT 37. It would be the farthest North Texas' offense would move the ball all game long against the Longhorn defense.
"To be the number one defense you have to force turnovers and we worked on that during practice and it showed in the game," said Johnson. "We forced turnovers and that's important. Turnovers help the team and we wanted to get the ball back to the offense."
The UT offense responded in kind on the very next play as sophomore quarterback Vince Young (14-21, 153 yards, 1 touchdown) lofted a strike to senior tight end David Thomas who was wide open down the right seam. The 36-yard gain moved the ball down to the North Texas 27, and from there, the Longhorns kept it on the ground. Five plays later, senior fullback Will Matthews scored from two yards out, making it a 24-0 game with just :59 left in the first.
"I didn't know we had over 500 yards (rushing)," said Vince Young. "But that is a credit to the way the line blocked. They did a great job of pass protection and run blocking."
In the second quarter, it was more of the same. UT held nearly an eight-minute advantage in time of possession (11:25 to 3:25). Defensively,the Longhorns limited North Texas to 10 total yards of offense, with Johnson forcing two more fumbles. The UT offense put another 20 points on the board. Benson (one yard) and Selvin Young (48 yards) each added their second rushing touchdowns, while Mangum kicked two more field goals, moving into fifth-place on the all-time UT scoring list, surpassing Jeff Ward ('86). Mangum now has 290 career points.
On the first drive of the second half, Benson ripped off a pair of long runs as the Longhorns drove 71 yards to make it a 51-0 game a little over two minutes into the third quarter. The drive was capped when Young found Matthews in the flat for a two-yard touchdown pass.
Both squads emptied their bench from there on in. The highlight for UT came late in the third quarter, when true freshman running back Ramonce Taylor broke free down down the left sideline, scooting 74 yards before being brought down at the one-yard line. On the next play, junior quarterback Matt Nordgren snuck in, giving UT a 58-0 lead with 2:38 left in the third.
UT's final points came on another one-yard score, this time by sophomore running back Ahmard Hall with 13:38 left to play.