No. 6 Texas 46, Texas A&M 15
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas had a record-setting night as it pulled away from Texas A&M in the second half en route to a 46-15 win in College Station on Friday. It was UT's sixth-straight victory and its fourth in a row over the Aggies. The win gave the Longhorns three-consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time in school history.
"I'm really proud of this team and especially the way they've played in the second half of the season," Mack Brown said. "We had some adversity in the first half of the year, but the players and the coaches worked hard to put us in this position to have one of the best teams in the country at the end of the regular season. We will just see where the bowl system takes us from her, but I appreciate what the team did to get us here."
Junior Cedric Benson amassed 283 yards rushing (No. 4 on UT's single-game list) with four touchdowns, both career highs. Benson's yards were the most by any opposing running back in the history of Texas A&M and the most against the Aggies since Ricky Williams rushed for 259 in 1998.
"It's really hard to win at Kyle Field and Cedric Benson and our offensive line did a great job setting the tone for us to do that," Brown added. "Coming into the game, we did not plan on running the ball as much as we did, but a lot of credit should go to Cedric. I've never seen him run harder or better."
On the defensive side, Nathan Vasher intercepted his 17th career pass, which tied him with Noble Doss for UT's career record, which had stood since 1941.
Texas struck quickly on its opening drive as Vince Young found David Thomas wide open over the middle on the second offensive play of the game for a 60-yard touchdown pass with 13:15 remaining in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
On their second possession, the Longhorns went on their longest scoring drive of the season, by taking the ball 95 yards in 13 plays. Benson capped the drive by breaking through the middle for a 21-yard touchdown run, the 41st rushing touchdown of his career, which put him alone in second place in UT history, passing Earl Campbell. Benson carried the ball six times for 50 yards during the drive and also surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, making him the third running back in UT history to reach 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons along with Ricky Williams (1996-98) and Chris Gilbert (1966-68).
"This is the kind of game any running back would dream about," Benson said. "I haven't had a chance to think about it yet. It does feel good to get the victory, that's for sure, and still be in the race for a BCS game. I think it shows a lot of confidence as a whole."
Texas A&M got on the board 12 seconds into the second quarter with a 23-yard field goal by Todd Pegram to cut the Texas lead to 14-3. Following a Vince Young fumble at Texas' own eight-yard line, the Aggies pushed in a one-yard touchdown on a run by QB Reggie McNeal to make the score 14-9 after a missed extra point.
With 9:26 left in the second quarter, Texas A&M returned the favor with a fumble of its own, setting Texas up at the Aggie 17-yard line. Four plays later, Vince Young ran the ball in from the one-yard line and the Longhorns failed to convert a two-point attempt, leaving the score 20-9 with 8:22 left in the half.
The second half opened with Selvin Young fumbling the kickoff to give Texas A&M the ball at the Texas 22. Aggie RB Courtney Lewis took the ball around the right end from 15 yards out to finish the three-play drive with 13:42 to go in the third quarter. The Aggies also failed on their two-point attempt, making the score 20-15.
The Longhorns were stopped on the following possession, but on the ensuing punt, Texas A&M returner Tim Van Zant fumbled, setting up Texas at the Aggie 26-yard line. Benson ran for 23 of the 26 yards to the end zone, finishing with a four-yard touchdown run with 10:33 left in the third quarter. Young ran in the two-point conversion for a 28-15 lead.
On Texas A&M's next possession, the Aggies drove 73 yards in seven plays before Nathan Vasher dove in the left side of the end zone to make his 17th career interception, which ties Noble Doss' record that has stood since 1941, the longest-standing record in Texas history.
The Longhorns carried that momentum by turning around and moving 80 yards, all on four rushes by Benson, highlighted by a season-high 50-yard run. He followed with an eight-yard touchdown run on the next play and the two-point conversion run to give Texas a 36-15 lead, which it took into the fourth quarter. David Pino connected on his first career field goal on the first play of the final frame, which followed an eight-play, 44-yard drive.
Texas' final score came on yet another Benson highlight, as he ran 35 yards down the left sideline on the first play following the Longhorns 11th blocked kick of the season, a Cedric Griffin block of a Jacob Young punt. The score came with 7:48 to go in the game, providing the final margin of 46-15, the largest margin of victory for the Longhorns in College Station since a 32-point win in 1983. The 46 points also gave the 2003 team 513 points for the season, setting a new single-season record, surpassing the 470 in 2001.