AUSTIN, Texas – Texas turned to a punishing run game to wipe out any lingering bad taste of a bad loss.
Bijan Robinson ran for three touchdowns in the first half and the Longhorns rolled up 427 yards on the ground in pounding Rice 58-0 Saturday night, a week after a loss a humiliating loss at Arkansas knocked the Longhorns out of the Top 25.
"When you have to kind of take a big bite out of the humble pie, like we had to last week, we challenged the guys. We had to own it and we had to get back to work,” first-year Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said.
Texas quarterback Casey Thompson got his first career start, but it was the smashing running game behind Robinson and Roschon Johnson that had the game quickly out of hand. Texas finished with 620 total yards and had three scoring runs of more than 60 yards.
Robinson scored on runs of of 6, 7 and 62 yards in the first half and finished with 127 on 13 carries. Johnson broke four tackles on a 72-yard scoring romp as Texas (2-1) built a 44-0 lead by halftime. Johnson had 112 yards on three carries.
“The runs were popping, so why stop running?" Johnson said. “I think we are both playmakers. If you get the ball in our hands, we can make something shake.”
Thompson spent the previous three seasons backing up Sam Ehlinger and lost the starting job to second-year freshman Hudson Card in training camp. After Texas managed just 256 total yards in a 40-21 loss at Arkansas, Sarkisian went with Thompson to try to spark the offense.
Thompson threw one early interception when he was hit on a throw, then spent most of the first half handing off to Robinson and Johnson. Thompson closed a 28-point second quarter with touchdown passes to Jared Wiley and Xavier Worthy.
“I actually got nervous for the first time. I hadn’t got nervous since my first start in high school," said Thompson, who was 15 of 18 passing for 164 yards. "I think we would have scored on every drive if it hadn’t been for that interception when obviously I got hit.”
Rice (0-3) crossed midfield only once in the first half, and that drive ended in a missed 30-yard field goal attempt.
On Texas' first possession of the second half, Alabama transfer Keilon Robinson ran 65 yards for a touchdown that made it 51-0.
“We count on our defense to bail us out of a lot of things. Today they weren’t able to bail us out, they got leaned on,” Rice coach Mike Bloomgren said. “This game was not fun.”
Rice: The Owls were simply overwhelmed by the Texas run game that easily pushed them around at the line of scrimmage. Even when they got a hand on the Texas running backs, Robinson and the others easily broke through arm tackles. Offensively, the Owls' top two quarterbacks, Luke McCaffrey and Wiley Green were both hurt in the first half and will have to be evaluated this week, Bloomgren said.
“Everything is hard in his game when you are down to your third and fourth quarterback,” Bloomgren said.
Texas: When Thompson plays, Texas scores. Dating back to last season's Alamo Bowl, Thompson had led the Longhorns to points on 16 of his 18 possessions. He played mostly in mop-up duty in the first two games behind Card, who finally entered the game in the third quarter when the score was 51-0.
“There's something about him when he gets in the game, the ball moves down field," Sarkisian said of Thompson. “I imagine Casey will lead the charge next week against Texas Tech.”
Rice hosts FCS opponent Texas Southern next Saturday.
Texas hosts Texas Tech next Saturday to start Big 12 play.
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