No. 2 Texas 52, No. 10 Texas Tech 17
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Vince Young and Texas turned Texas Tech's big chance into another Longhorn landslide.
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, 52-17 Saturday, in a victory that should do nothing but help the Longhorns in their run for the Rose Bowl.
Looking to start 7-0 for the first time since 1976 and move into national title contention, the high-scoring, pass-happy Red Raiders (6-1, 3-1) couldn't keep up with Young and 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.
"Now I think this team definitely deserves to be No. 2 in the country," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
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.
Texas withstood the barrage of short passes from Tech's Air Raid offense, 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 is still the most dangerous running quarterback in the country. He showed off his smooth stride on a 10-yard TD run that made it 45-17 in the third quarter and finished with 45 yards on seven carries.
Young, who was 25-for-29 for 336 yards in last week's rout of Colorado, gave his performance a C+ and said in the past throwing two picks might have crushed his confidence for the day.
"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 Southern California in the first Bowl Championship Series standings released earlier this week. After winning their 14th straight game, and snapping Texas Tech's eight game winning streak, that spot seems safe.
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 the national title game 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 the start of the 1977 season and never before had the Raiders and Longhorns faced each other with perfect records this late in the season.
But Tech had much to prove after beating up on sketchy competition for the first half of the season. 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."
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.
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.
On Texas' third play from scrimmage in the second half, Vince Young found Pittman running free down the middle for a 75-yard score. As his teammate cruised into the end zone, Young struck a hands-on-hips pose while soaking in the cheers.