Freshman signal caller Vince Young got the start, his first, and performed like a seasoned veteran as he completed 12 of 16 passes for a career high 156 yards and added 59 yards rushing on 10 carries. Both Young and junior Chance Mock (6 of 9 for 131 yards) took advantage of their opportunities as they alternated on a pre-planned rotation and had the best game of the season according to coach Mack Brown.
"There wasn't any pressure on either quarterback," Brown said. "They did what they were supposed to do. Chance played his best game today. Both of them played really well."
The Horns got off to a fast start as they took the opening kick-off and marched down the field on a combination of Cedric Benson rushes and Young passes to score on a six yard run by Benson just three minutes into the game. The drive was highlighted by a 46 yard pass from Young to Roy Williams who, along with fellow wide-out B.J. Johnson, combined for an eye-popping 287 receiving yards.
"I thought my first start went real well," said Young, commenting on the opening drive. "It felt a little different coming in and I was pretty nervous, but we went down and had a good drive."
Young was back in the lineup a couple of series later, as the Horns mounted another 80-yard drive capped by Benson's second touchdown of the afternoon. On this drive, it was Johnson who provided the key play as he caught a pass down the sideline thrown by an unlikely passer -- Roy Williams.
After taking a hand-off from Young on a fake reverse it was the stellar wide receiver pulling up and finding Johnson streaking down the sideline.
"He was perfect today," Brown said of Williams' one of one effort, which if thrown a little harder would have resulted in a touchdown as Johnson had to slow down to grab the under thrown ball.
But the play, which the Horns have worked on extensively in practice, not necessarily with such positive results, set the tone for the rest of the afternoon as the Cyclones were kept on their heels with a combination of Benson's hard inside running and a complicated game plan implemented for the Cyclones, who were starting a couple of true freshmen on their defensive line.
"We hadn't gotten the ball to (Johnson) enough," Brown said. "He's a great player. I thought Roy played really well today, but it was a chance for B.J. to get some plays. And Roy was our leading passer --- he hit 100 percent."
The game plan revolved around Johnson and it worked to perfection. The 6-1 senior ended up with 187 yards on seven receptions, including a 13 yard toss from Young with just 1:06 left in the first half which gave the Horns a 24-0 advantage over the punchless Cyclones.
"I thought the execution right before half was unbelievable," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. "They did a great job. We wanted to get B.J. Johnson involved. Part of it was the way they (Iowa State) played and part of it was we moved him around."
Johnson was just thankful for the opportunities he had in the game that tied him for second on UT's 100-yard receiving games list.
"It just means that I have to keep on working," Johnson said. "When opportunities come, you have to run with them."
Davis knew going in that the Cyclones would be concentrating on Williams, and he made them pay dearly.
The Horns' offense returned to the field after Iowa State's punt went out of bounds on the 46 yard line and promptly moved the ball down the field to the 14 where kicker Dusty Mangum nailed a 31 yarder to make the score 27-0 at intermission.
Iowa State did some quarterback switching of its own in the second half, when the 'Clones brought in freshman Austin Flynn. Flynn, who hails from Deer Park, Texas, had started every game this season before Saturday when he sat down in favor of junior Love.
Flynn displayed far more mobility than 6-5 Texan Love and promptly engineered a drive that ended in a 51 yard Tony Yelk field goal to start the second half.
The Cyclones also brought on freshman Stevie Hicks, a 6-2, 214 running back, who was a stark contrast to starter 5-7, 188-pound Michael Wagner. The two changes on offense by Iowa State seemed to energize the hometown team and the crowd of 45,355 watching the game on a beautiful 80-degree Austin-like day.
On the Cyclones' next offensive series, Flynn completed a 47-yard pass to wide receiver Lance Young to the Texas two yard line. A reverse to wide receiver Lane Danielsen provided the score and a scrambling Flynn rushed for the two point conversion to move the score to 27-11 and stir some concern on the Horns' sideline.
However, Benson added another touchdown early in the fourth quarter, the 36th of his career, to reassert the Longhorns' dominance over the Cyclones.
"Cedric Benson ran about as well as I've seen him run," Brown said of Benson's 149 yard, three touchdown day. "He made a lot of key plays on second and third downs to move the chains. The offense responded really well when they had to in the first half. And coming back in third quarter, they took it back over every time Iowa State came down and cut into the lead."
Having posted his season-high rushing yardage, Benson was quick to give credit to the offensive line, which clearly overmatched the Cyclones.
"It started with the guys up front," he said. "They're always ready to play. They stood up tall and held their ground. It makes it easy for me to gain yards. I've been looking for that big 30-carry game and I had 32 today. The guys up front are the ones that make it happen."
The Cyclones' Flynn wasn't done with his heroics, however, as he threw a five yard touchdown pass to leading receiver Danielsen to make the score 33-19.
Texas responded less than two minutes later with the game exclamation point as Chance Mock saw Roy Williams with one on one coverage and fired a 30 yard scoring strike that ended the game's scoring at 40-19.
"Flynn showed us a different look with his mobility," linebacker Derrick Johnson said of the Cyclones' half-time offensive switch. "And Hicks was a bigger back."
But those seemed to be the only problems for the Horns' defense, however, as they held the Cyclones to 277 total yards while their own offense racked up 578.
"Defensively, we shut them down completely, and our offense moved the ball," Brown said. "The defense did a great job with some poor field position.
"(Iowa State) adjusted and started moving the ball some in the third quarter, but offensively we responded well and took the game over. I knew they would play hard.
"They only had 45 yards of total offense in the first half, guys were flying around and we didn't have a turnover. We had our hands on a couple of balls that should have been interceptions, but we couldn't get them. But I thought our guys played well."
The central question coming into this game was how the Horns would respond to the embarrassing loss to Oklahoma last weekend. The Sooners played Iowa State and Texas back to back and actually handed the Horns a worse defeat than they had pinned on the Cyclones a week earlier.
Would Texas pack it in and give the outmatched Cyclones an opportunity, or would they cinch it up and get back to where they needed to be heading into the last half of the season?
"There was a little adversity," Benson said of the challenge that his team faced on Saturday. "You've got to face up to it, stand up to it, be strong and move on. It (the Oklahoma game) was a big learning experience for this team and brought us together. It bettered us."
Brown was glad to put the Oklahoma debacle behind him and was all smiles after the game against the Cyclones.
"We're excited to get back on track and excited to come up here and get to play," he said. "When you have a tough game and don't play well, it's not like baseball and basketball. You don't get the chance to go right back out and answer it. Our team answered pretty well this weekend."
Texas has now won 14 of their last 15 road games and travels to Waco next Saturday to face the Baylor Bears.