AUSTIN, Tx -- The Texas Longhorns (2-1, 0-0) handed a 58-0 shutout defeat to the Rice Owls (0-3, 0-0) at Darrell K. Memorial - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening in a game that Texas dominated from the first snap. The Longhorns scored at will on the Owls, and mixed in a variety of new wrinkles in the playbook in doing so. After a humiliating performance last week in Fayetteville, Steve Sarkisian and staff put together a gameplan against Rice that spread the ball around more and included a myriad of players that didn't see the field last week. Postgame, Sarkisian spoke on his team's ability to bounce back after a collective commitment and effort to try and improve after the loss to Arkansas.
"When you have to take a big bite of the humble pie like we had to after last week, we challenged the guys that we had to own it. And then we have to get back to work. I thought the intent and mentality of our team all week long in practice translated to the game."
Quarterback Casey Thompson got the starting nod from Sarkisian earlier in the week and made the most of his opportunity, throwing for 164 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Hudson Card replaced Thompson midway through the third quarter and finished the night 2-3 for 29 yards after handing the ball off on most snaps.
Texas tallied 620 yards of total offense, compared to the Owls' 284 yards. The margin of victory was the largest for the Longhorns since the 2005 season.
The offense did their job, but It was the running game that highlighted the night for the Longhorns. Texas ran wild against a struggling Rice defense and saw four different running backs score touchdowns. Bijan Robinson had 13 carries for 127 yards and three touchdowns, while Roschon Johnson had 3 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. Alabama transfer Keilan Robinson added 83 yards and a touchdown on 5 carries, and true freshman Jonathon Brooks had 9 carries for 63 yards and a score.
Rice went through three quarterbacks on the night and punted in seven of eleven total possessions.
The Owls won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving Texas the ball first, and an opportunity to manufacture a 9-play, 69 yard drive that was capped by Bijan Robinson's first touchdown of the night. After a Rice punt in their first possession, Casey Thompson was picked off by Gabe Taylor as he was pressured by Rice's Ikenna Enechukwu. Rice marched downfield, deep into Texas territory before Collin Riccitelli missed a 30-yard FG and gave the Longhorns the ball back.
Roschon Johnson added a 72-yard touchdown run when he took a direct snap out of the 'Wild Horn' formation, giving Texas a 14-0 advantage. After three and out, Keilan Robinson then blocked Rice's punt which bounced out of the end zone and gave the Longhorns a safety and a 16-0 lead after one quarter.
Bijan Robinson opened the second quarter with a bang, adding a pair of touchdown runs which included a 62 yard romp, to extend the lead to 30-0 in favor of the Longhorns. Rice punted on their next possession and Texas scored again, with Thompson finding tight end Jared Wiley for a 20-yard touchdown. The Owls' struggles continued, as they fumbled at the 1:30 mark before the half, allowing Texas to score again. Thompson threw his second touchdown pass of the night, finding Xavier Worthy for his first score as a Longhorn.
At the half, Texas led 44-0.
Rice opened the second half with possession but went three and out. Texas running back Keilan Robinson demonstrated his speed by outrunning defenders while ripping off a 65-yard touchdown run. After another punt by the Owls, true freshman Jonathan Brooks capped a 13-play, 76-yard drive with a 17 yard scamper into the end zone. After three quarters the longhorns led 58-0.
Neither team scored in the fourth quarter but the Longhorns were able to get a slew of reserve players on both sides of the ball into the game which Sarkisian feels is critical for the future.
Texas hosts Texas Tech next Saturday at 11:00 am in the Big 12 opener for both teams.