Tech suffers first loss this season with 52-17 pounding

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- As Billy Pittman cruised into the end zone

with a 75-yard touchdown pass, Vince Young struck a pose. Hands on

hips and chest out, Superman style, the Texas quarterback soaked in

the roar of an adoring crowd.

Less than two minutes into the second half, another Longhorn

landslide was in the making.

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 Saturday, a 52-17 victory that should do nothing but help

the Longhorns' run for the Rose Bowl.

Trying to start 7-0 for the first time since 1976 and move into

national title contention, the high-scoring Red Raiders (6-1, 3-1)

couldn't keep up with 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.

Brown said at the beginning of the season he felt defending

national champ Southern California was a worthy No. 1 but no team

could rightfully lay claim to No. 2.

"Now I think this team definitely deserves to be No. 2 in the

country," Brown said after Texas' 14th straight victory.

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.

"When you play a team like Texas you have to eliminate ...

mental mistakes," Hodges said. "And we shot ourselves in the foot

early on offense."

Texas withstood the barrage of short passes from Tech's Air

Raid, 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 ran

just seven times for 45 yards and used that smooth stride on a

10-yard TD run to make it 45-17 in the third quarter.

Young gave his performance a C+ and said in the past throwing

two picks might have crushed his confidence.

"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


The Longhorns were second behind USC in the first Bowl

Championship Series standings released this week. After snapping

Texas Tech's eight-game winning streak, that spot seems safe.

USC improved to 7-0 with 51-24 win over Washington to keep the

Trojans and Longhorns on track for a date in the BCS title game.

"Of course we're biased out there with the Pac-10. So if we

could have USC and Texas, it would be just special," said David

Davis, chief of the Rose Bowl football committee, in Austin on

Saturday. "It would be as good a game as we could hope for."

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

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

1977, and never before had the Raiders and Longhorns faced each

other with perfect records this late in the season.

Tech also still had much to prove after scoring 54 points per

game against sketchy competition. 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."

Quan Cosby's 38-yard punt return set up Texas at the Tech 8, and

270-pound freshman Henry Melton scored from a yard out moments

later to give the Longhorns a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter.

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.

"It was disheartening to see that happen," Tech receiver

Jarrett Hicks said.

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.

"Texas deserves a lot of attention," Hodges said, "and they

have a chance to run the table and win it all."