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Texas fried Rice: Takeaways from the Texas Longhorns' 58-0 shutout victory

Texas running backs Bijan Robinson, left, and Roschon Johnson celebrate Robinson's touchdown run in the first half of the Longhorns' 58-0 win over Rice. Robinson scored three touchdowns on the night.

As bad as things felt just seven days ago in Fayetteville, all looks right for Texas as the Longhorns head into Big 12 play next week.

Saturday night's 58-0 demolition of still-winless Rice was indeed just what Texas needed. Casey Thompson won his first career start in super-efficient fashion. Bijan Robinson showed us why he's a complete running back. Heck, so did Roschon Johnson. Xavier Worthy is on the rise. The offense literally could only be stopped by itself, the defense pitched a shutout for the first time since 2017. Cameron Dicker had his first clean game of the season (sure, it was nothing but extra points — that's a good thing) and Rice literally had only one highlight play all night. There was even a blocked punt and a safety.

Texas (2-1) entered the game with history on its side: a 73–21–1 edge in the all-time series, a 14-game winning streak against the Owls dating back to 1994, and the fact that this was a Longhorn Network game — the Horns had won 14 straight LHN games, with the average margin of victory 24.6 points. All those averages go up now.

You know that Steve Sarkisian's slogan for the season is All Gas No Brakes, right? Against the Owls, that's literally how it was.

Up next for Texas

Texas Tech. The Longhorns open Big 12 play with a home game against the Red Raiders, who beat Florida International 54-21 on Saturday.

Last year's game was a 63-56 overtime thriller for Texas in Lubbock, as Joshua Moore caught three touchdowns from Sam Ehlinger, including the game winner in overtime, and Caden Sterns sealed it with an interception on Tech's final fourth-down try to tie it. It was his first pick since 2017; Moore was the first UT player to catch three TDs in a game since Jaxon Shipley had three in Stillwater in 2012. 

It's an 11 a.m. kickoff next Saturday at DKR. TV info hasn't been announced yet.

Takeaways from tonight's loss:

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian takes the field before an NCAA college football game in Austin, Saturday, Sep., 18, 2021.

OK, let's tap the brakes

No offense to Rice, but this was a mismatch. A big one.

Still, Texas bounced back from Arkansas in a big, big way. But don't forget how high a level the Longhorns looked in the season-opening win over Louisiana — and yes, the Ragin' Cajuns were ranked 23rd, and yes they went 10-1 last year and returned just about everybody, but that one turned out to be fool's gold. The loss at Arkansas was that ugly.

Still, lots to feel good about heading into the Big 12.

Questions, questions, questions

1. How much stock should we put into this win? Texas has owned Rice through the decades. More of the same tonight.

2. Will Fayetteville end up being this season's rock-bottom for Texas? If so, then it was best to get that loss (and underwhelming effort) out of the way early.

3. Do we have a running back controversy? Nah. Roschon Johnson looked awfully good, but that just means that Texas has an awfully good running back to spell Bijan Robinson. And Keilan Robinson looked awfully enticing with home run potential.

4. How did Thompson do? It was fairly classic Casey: his numbers were good, not great, and his production was great, not good. His final numbers were 15 of 18 for 164 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. But he led the Horns to scores. Part of the reason Sarkisian went with him was because of his past production, having directed Texas to scores on nine of his 10 previous drives dating back to last season. Through three quarters Saturday night, the Horns scored touchdowns on nine of their first 10 drives.

5. How'd the running game look? Fantastic. The Horns went deep, with Robinson, Johnson and Robinson all having big days, but also getting tangible contributions from Jonathon Brooks and Gabe Watson.

Texcetera

Injuries: T'Vondre Sweat made two nice back-to-back plays in the first quarter, then hobbled off. He was back by the second quarter, though. Freshman CB Ishamael Ibraheem left in the final couple of minutes of the game with a lower leg injury. Rice went through three quarterbacks as Luke McCaffrey and Wiley Green both were hurt. ... The best 2-yard run of the night? Robinson's second-and-8 carry on Texas' third drive, which looked like he broke/powered through five tackles. ... Freshman DL Barryn Sorrell pounced on an Owls fumble late in the first quarter, but a video review determined it wasn't a fumble after all. ... Hudson Card entered in the third quarter and played the rest of the way (2-for-3 for 29 yards), as Texas ran out the clock. ... Bijan Robinson had 13 carries for 127 yards and 3 TDs, Roschon Johnson had 3 carries for 112 yards and a TD, Keilan Robinson had 83 yards and a touchdown and Jonathan Brooks had nine carries for 63 yards and a score. ... Xavier Worthy led the team with 7 catches for 88 yards and a TD, and TE Jared Wiley scored a TD. Joshua Moore and Jordan Whittington each managed only one catch each.

How the scoring went

1st quarter — Texas 16, Rice 0

Texas: Bijan Robinson helped start the opening drive of the game with a 17-yard cutback run and ended it with a 6-yard score. In between, the Horns converted a fourth-and-3 from Rice's 41 (a 31-yard catch and run by Xavier Worthy).

Texas: Roschon Johnson spelled Robinson on the Horns' third drive and made a quick impact, taking the direct snap — remember, he signed with Texas as a quarterback — and took it around the right side for a 72-yard touchdown run.

Texas: Keilan Robinson, the transfer running back from Alabama, showed off his speed on a Rice punt, streaking in from the edge to block the kick. The ball went out of the back of the end zone for a Texas safety, and the play literally was the final one of the quarter.

2nd quarter — Halftime: Texas 44, Rice 0

Texas: Bijan Robinson scored on a delay right up the middle for the 23-0 lead.

Texas: Another big touchdown run, this one by Robinson from 62 yards to make it 30-0. By this point of the game, Rice was working with its third quarterback of the night.

Texas: Remember Jared Wiley? The big 6-7 tight end missed last week's game with a bad shoulder but came back this week and hauled in a 20-yard touchdown catch from Casey Thompson.

Texas: Xavier Worthy scored on a 13-yard catch — but the star of the play was Thompson, who placed the ball perfectly to Worthy's back shoulder with 14 seconds left.

3rd quarter — Texas 58, Rice 0

Texas: Keilan Robinson had his second big moment of the game, and this one was even bigger than the first — a 65-yard sprint touchdown on the Horns' first drive of the half.

Texas: Jonathon Brooks, the freshman running back from Hallettsville, was sprung by a block by Juan Davis, the freshman tight end from Everman, scored from 17 yards out with 1:08 left in the quarter.