The Aggies improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2010, but weren't overjoyed with the victory because they thought they could have played much better.
"Guys weren't very happy with how they played tonight," coach Kevin Sumlin said. "In the locker room our guys were ho hum and pretty hard on themselves ... and that's good."
Kenny Hill threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and Texas A&M overcame a slow start for the win.
The Aggies led by 14 points at halftime, but struggled at times to sustain drives and committed several costly penalties, including one that resulted in a touchdown being called back, in the first half.
They got going after halftime with Hill finding Josh Reynolds on a 20-yard touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter. A 1-yard touchdown run by Tra Carson pushed the lead to 35-10 later in the third.
Hill also had TD passes of 14, 13 and 48 yards and has 1,094 yards passing this season to become the first player in school history to throw for 1,000 yards in the first three games of a season.
"We started off slow," Hill said. "We never want to start it off slow. We are going to work on that and fix that and be better next week."
There was heavy rain in College Station on Friday night and there were a number of divots on the grass field. Rice coach David Bailiff went on the field near some of them at the start of halftime and talked to several people for a couple of minutes before going into the locker room.
Members of the grounds crew ran onto the field during many of the stops in play in the second half to fill the holes. At one point in the third quarter there were 10 people spread across the field working on it.
"I thought Eric Hyman their athletic director ... their grounds crew did about as good a job as anybody could do keeping up with that," Bailiff said. "They kept the surface safe for the football team and that's what it's all about."
The field was just installed last month because of renovations to Kyle Field.
"Kyle Field is a new field and it's a pretty bad field," Texas A&M defensive end Julien Obioha said. "I slipped because the field would give out."
Reynolds had just two catches but they were both for touchdowns and he finished with 68 yards receiving.
Hill had a nifty run to set up Carson's score in the third quarter. He zig-zagged his way around several Rice defenders before being tripped up from behind at the 1. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but it was reviewed and overturned.
Hill was replaced by freshman Kyle Allen with about five minutes remaining. Allen threw an interception to end his only drive.
Texas A&M freshman Myles Garrett had 2 1/2 sacks to give him 5 1/2 this season, which is a school-record for a freshman.
The Owls dominated the time of possession at more than 43 minutes, but would often come up empty after long drives.
"We just have to finish the drive," Jackson said. "It's a little disappointing to be out there for 43 minutes and only put up 10 points."
James Hairston made a 33-yard field goal with less than a minute left in the third quarter for Rice. A career-best 47-yard field goal by Josh Lambo pushed the lead to 38-10 early in the fourth quarter.
A&M took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Speedy Noil grabbed a 14-yard pass for his first career touchdown. Noil limped to the locker room in the third quarter with an unspecified injury and Sumlin wouldn't provide details on it after the game.
The Aggies made it 14-0 on their next possession when Hill found Ricky Seals-Jones for a 13-yard touchdown pass.
The Owls got within a touchdown when Jackson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mario Hull.
Reynolds came back to get the ball and then juked Malcolm Hill to evade a tackle on his way to the end zone on a 48-yard touchdown reception that made it 21-7 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
Hairston hit a 53-yard field goal seconds before halftime that would have made it 21-10, but A&M was flagged for having 12 men on the field and the Owls had to kick again.
The second time it was blocked by Seals-Jones and Armani Watts returned it 93 yards for a touchdown. But those points would be taken away, too. There was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the A&M bench and the would-be TD run became a 35-yard return.
"Really bizarre ending to the first half," Sumlin said.
Hairston also missed a 22-yard field goal attempt early in the first quarter.