No. 8 Texas 52, Rice 7
HOUSTON (AP) -- Texas ran with ease, its defense was stifling and Colt McCoy was sharp.
If No. 8 Texas wouldn't have committed all those pesky penalties Saturday's 52-7 win over Rice would have been near-perfect.
Texas (2-1) easily avoided losing two straight games for the first time since 1999 and rebounded from last week's loss to Ohio State while Rice (0-3) has lost 19 of its last 20.
Though Texas had its way with the Owls on both sides of the ball, coach Mack Brown was concerned with the number of penalties his team had. The Longhorns committed a school-record 19 penalties for 148 yards. On one drive late in the first Texas had three straight penalties -- two false starts and one for holding -- that forced the team to settle for a field goal.
"We made a lot of mistakes," McCoy said. "Their defensive line was yelling things. They did a great job of yelling and moving around and throwing us off."
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis was frustrated.
"It was way too many penalties for our standards," Davis said. "It's no question about it, we've got to get it cleaned up."
The Longhorns scored on their first three possessions and then tacked on touchdowns on defense and special teams to take a 31-0 lead.
McCoy threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Limas Sweed just before halftime to make it 38-0.
The Longhorns used their passing game sparingly with McCoy going 7-of-8.
"We're growing as a team. We're trying to figure out who we are," Brown said. "I thought Colt did about everything that he could right."
Texas used seven straight running plays capped by a 4-yard run by Young to take an early 7-0 lead.
McCoy threw his first pass on the second possession, a perfect 21-yard throw to a wide-open Jermichael Finley. Five plays later, Charles ran untouched for a 20-yard touchdown.
While the Texas offense dazzled by marching down the field with ease in the first half, the defense was just as impressive with its stifling efficiency.
The Longhorns had outgained the Owls 251-2 with about six minutes remaining in the first half and Rice had minus-21 yards rushing at halftime.
Rice didn't even get the ball past midfield until halfway through the third quarter when a 15-yard facemask penalty was tacked on the end of a run by quarterback Joel Armstrong.
Texas had 493 yards and 22 first downs to 168 yards and 11 first downs by Rice. The Owls finished with minus-12 yards rushing. Brown said his defense played "as well as I've seen them play."
The Texas defense had 13 tackles for losses, led by Crowder who had five for minus-20 yards.
"We did a horrible job of getting them prepared to play this game," Rice coach Todd Graham said. "Texas is a very, very good football team and you absolutely cannot come out and not be ready to play."
In the second, Charles dashed up the middle before stiff-arming a defender and running 46 yards to the 12-yard line. It looked like Young would score a few plays later but the ball was knocked out of his hands as he dove over the pile on the goal line and the Owls recovered.
It didn't matter much though because three plays later Crowder snatched the ball out of the hands of a heavily pressured Armstrong in the end zone for a touchdown. Crowder immediately trotted away while still clutching the stolen ball over his head with one hand.
"We work on stripping drills all the time and I just did it like the drills and the ball just came up," Crowder said.
The Owls were forced to punt away their next possession which Aaron Ross returned 46 yards for a score to make it 31-0. It was the third career punt return for a touchdown for Ross, tying a school record.
Though the Longhorns were the visitors, all but one section of the occupied areas of Reliant Stadium were filled with orange-clad Texas fans.
Most of the Texas starters were on the bench by the fourth quarter, but the backups still managed to tack on one more touchdown when Henry Melton scored on a 5-yard run.
The Owls avoided a shutout when Armstrong found Jarrett Dillard on a 6-yard pass for the touchdown late in the fourth.
"Being able to score seven points at the end may not mean much to some people, but it meant a lot to us as we keep fighting until the end," Armstrong said.