AUSTIN, Texas -- Sometime during the week, the top-ranked Texas Longhorns dug a hole in a secret spot and buried the game ball from their big win over Oklahoma.
Then, with the hype symbolically disposed of, the Longhorns went out and buried No. 11 Missouri.
Using a stunning first half, Texas raced to a 35-point lead before cruising to a 56-31 victory Saturday night that left little doubt these Longhorns plan to be No. 1 for a while.
Colt McCoy passed for a 337 yards and two touchdowns, ran for two more and set a school record with 17 straight completions in the kind of nearly flawless performance that he's starting to make look routine.
"Colt was phenomenal," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He's showing leadership, he's poised. He's really having a good time."
McCoy and the Longhorns had earned Texas' first regular-season No. 1 ranking since 1984 a week earlier by knocking off Oklahoma in Dallas, leading some to wonder how the Longhorns would handle the top spot.
Missouri was supposed to be a battle between two national title contenders and Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterbacks in McCoy and Missouri's Chase Daniel. The Tigers had been within one victory of playing for the national title last season and were ranked as high as No. 3 just a week ago.
It wasn't close. Not even for a little while.
Dominating both sides of the ball, the Longhorns (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) scored touchdowns on all five possessions of the first half in front of a feverish record home crowd of 98,383.
"We buried the Oklahoma game. We threw No. 1 out the window and went back to work," Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo said.
McCoy did his part, picking apart the Tigers at will. He stiff-armed defenders when he ran, and one time when he was nearly sacked and fumbled, he picked up the ball and fired a 23-yard completion.
"We came out strong," McCoy said. "Every time we had the ball, we went down and scored. That's our standard."
Missouri (5-2, 1-2) didn't score until Jeff Wolfert kicked a 33-yard field goal on the last play of the half. By that time, the crowd had been taunting the Tigers with chants of "Over-rated!" for nearly 20 minutes. The Tigers tacked on two fourth-quarter touchdowns when the game was well out of reach.
Daniel, the feisty Texas high school star, needed a big game in his home state to revive his Heisman hopes. The Longhorns kept him on the run, sacking him on the Tigers' third play and holding Missouri to just one first down on its first four possessions. Daniel finished with 318 yards passing and two touchdowns.
"I think I played as loose as possible. I was upbeat, trying to get my teammates going," Daniel said. "He [McCoy] can't play any better. It's the reason why he's the front-runner for the Heisman. It's the reason why Texas is playing so well."
Texas led 28-0 before Missouri finally crossed midfield, but even that drive collapsed on fourth down at the 7 with just under 4 minutes left in the half when an apparent touchdown catch was ruled out of bounds.
Naturally, Texas drove 93 yards for a TD. McCoy completed six passes, including a 13-yard scoring connection with Jordan Shipley.
"When their offense is going like that, our offense's job is to match it. It's both sides, both ways," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "It becomes a bit overwhelming series after series."
For Texas, the Longhorns are just halfway through a brutal stretch of games against ranked opponents. In the next two weeks, they play No. 8 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Texas Tech, both of whom are undefeated.
"When you believe you're No. 1," linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy said, "that's when bad things happen."
With that gauntlet still ahead, the Longhorns made sure to keep the focus on the games ahead, not the wins behind them. McCoy even threw out any talk about the Heisman. The cover boy on Sports Illustrated this week, he made a show of tossing the magazine in the trash during a team meeting.
And as good as McCoy was against Oklahoma, he was even better against the Tigers.
With baseball stars Derek Jeter and former Texas pitcher Roger Clemens on the sideline to watch the rout, McCoy scored Texas' first touchdown on a 6-yard run. His first TD pass was a 32-yard strike to Malcolm Williams, who jumped over the double-coverage of safeties Justin Garrett and Williams for the grab.
And when McCoy dribbled the ball on the ground only to pick it up and throw a strike that kept the last drive of the half alive, he created the "Did you just see that?" moment of the season so far.
With one half of near-perfect football, Texas buried not only the Tigers, but any doubt about who deserves to be No. 1.
"There's no prize for being 7-0," Shipley said. "Now we have to refocus again."
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