Although the Horns' 44-14 win over the Bears at Royal-Memorial Saturday was never in doubt, there was still some question if Benson would get the 179 yards needed to pass legendary Earl Campbell as the second-leading rusher in Longhorn history.
"I started off the game with my engine running harder than what I normally play at," Benson said. "I was a little too pumped about coming into the game making something big happen and get it over with."
For the record, Benson's 188 yards on 34 carries gives him 4,452 for his career and eclipses Campbell's previous mark by nine yards. Now, Benson trails only Ricky Williams (6,279) on Texas' all-time list.
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"I remember a couple of drives after half time (when) I started getting emotional," Benson said. "It's a great honor, considering all the work you put into it and how far you've come. The offensive line was talking to me before the game and they said they wanted me to get it by halftime."
Benson finally ran past the Tyler Rose on a pair of draw plays -- netting 12 and 5 yards, respectively -- on Texas' first offensive possession of the fourth quarter. He sat the rest of the game as freshman RB Ramonce Taylor added 45 yards on five carries.
"What a great feat for Cedric Benson to break the rushing record of one of the great players to play not only at The University of Texas but also in the NFL," head coach Mack Brown said. "I think he just wanted to get it out of the way. I didn't realize just how much pressure he felt."
It's also good to get this one over with as Texas can now turn its undivided attention toward Oklahoma. Both programs are 4-0 heading into the annual Hate Fest next Saturday at the Cotton Bowl. The Sooners dismissed Texas Tech, 28-13, in Norman. So, now we can start talking about OU? Well, not just yet, according to Brown.
"I told (the players) that as hard as they've worked and as hard as it is to win a football game, they owe it to themselves to enjoy one after they've played," Brown said. "I'm the one who's supposed to start worrying about the next game and preparing for it. They don't have to do that tonight... I told them that I'm not talking about the next opponent today. I'm going to wait until Monday. I thought it was appropriate for them to enjoy this one and talk about Baylor."
Okay, let's talk about Baylor. Once again, an opponent stacked the LOS and dared Texas to throw. And Texas did.
QB Vince Young, spotty, had his most efficient day as a Longhorn by completing 15-of-20 for 189 yards and two TDs in sloggy conditions. VY added 55 rushing yards on five carries, including the game's longest run at 47 yards. FL Tony Jeffery was Texas' leading receiver with 66 yards on five grabs, gathering in both of VY's scoring tosses.
"I think I was proudest to see us throw the ball better downfield to a number of different receivers," Brown said. "That was something we needed to do."
Texas generated 303 rushing yards against a Baylor run defense that entered the contest surrendering 190.7 ypg (NCAA No. 85) on the ground. The Horns finished with 507 total yards and were 7-of-16 on third down conversions.
All-American WLB Derrick Johnson was, again, Texas' leading tackler with 11 stops, a batted-ball that led to MLB Aaron Harris' INT and one of the craziest forced fumbles you will ever see.
"It's always good to get the victory and we got that today," Johnson said. "The good part about it is we're going to get better."
(A reporter asked Johnson if he'd rather win the Butkus Award or beat OU. It caused Benson to grimace and then plead, "Don't answer that. Don't answer that.")
Freshman Frank Okam logged his first start at LDT in place of injured Rodrique Wright. Okam was credited with three assisted tackles.
"I think the defense probably felt that we needed to shut them out," Okam said, "but, other than that, I think we played a great overall game."
Baylor was held to 70 yards rushing on 25 attempts and just four-of-17 on third down conversions. Baylor QB Dane King finished with 18-of-37 passing for 165 yards and one INT, but his numbers would have been a lot better had his receivers not dropped passes like they were bad habits. If Texas doesn't do a better job of pressuring the QB, Oklahoma could score on every possession.
Junior DE Aurmon Satchell staked his claim for more playing time by displaying much-need zip from the edge.
Texas opened on the Baylor 49 after Jeffery tipped a Daniel Sepulveda punt. Benson reeled off 27 yards on three carries before Young kept for six. Following a five-yard Will Matthews run, Benson took it in from the 11 on the counter play. Benson tied the school record for consecutive games with a TD (11) with his 50th career rushing TD as Texas took a 7-0 lead 2:44 into the game.
"I asked our guys to start the game right and they really did," Brown said. "We were pleased with their attitude when they came out of the dressing room."
With Texas dropping back in zone defense and operating out of the nickel, Johnson tipped a QB Dane King pass into the waiting arms of MLB Aaron Harris who returned it six yards to the Baylor 25.
Young hit Jeffery on the right sideline for 9 to open the six-play scoring drive, capped with TE Bo Scaife's end zone fumble recovery of Benson's loose ball (Benson's third bobbled ball in a soggy first quarter). Texas led 14-0 with 9:41 remaining in the first quarter.
Texas took over at the BU 33 after the defense forced a 28-yard punt from the back of the end zone but the short-lived drive (Texas threw on two-of-three snaps) yielded no punts as Dusty Mangum's 48-yard FG attempt fell short.
Texas was whistled for delay-of-game penalties on both the second PAT of the game and then on Richmond McGee's first punt (a 50-yarder) with 1:40 remaining.
Baylor's biggest play of the game covered 30 yards, but nearly 22 came courtesy of WLB Derrick Johnson's forced fumble of an RB Anthony Krieg ball that he literally punched at least 22 yards toward the UT goal line.
"He hit it too far," Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson joked.
WR Dominique Ziegler made the recovery at the Longhorn 24. On first down, QB Dane King found WR Marques Roberts on deep drag route as Baylor notched its first points against Texas in 10 quarters. The score stood at 14-7 with 68 seconds remaining in the opening frame
Texas immediately answered with a four-play, 70-yard drive. It began with Young strolling for 47 'zone read' yards up the middle on first down.
"For the most part (Baylor) held the back side in on the zone read," Davis said. "Vince had that long run when they committed to the back side."
Facing 3rd-and-10 from the Baylor 23, Young did an outstanding of looking off Jeffery whom he then hit in stride on a stop-and-go pattern. The score, coming on the first play of the second quarter, restored Texas' 14-point cushion, 21-7.
On 4th-and-8 from the BU 20, SS Michael Griffin crashed the line and swatted Supelveda's punt attempt out of the end zone for a Longhorn safety.
Following Texas' second punt of the second quarter, FS Phillip Geiggar forced a Ziegler fumble at the end of an 11-yard screen pass from King. RDT Larry Dibbles recovered at the BU 39. An illegal formation penalty nullified a 9-yard Benson TD run but, on the next snap, Young found Jeffery on a left sideline pass good for a 14-yard TD reception. Texas' lead stood at 30-7 with 4:45 remaining until intermission.
Texas went to the air on its next possession with four WR catching balls and Benson adding a pair of grabs of his own. From the Texas 18, Young found future-star SE Nate Jones streaking down the right sideline who made the snag for 31 yards even though Baylor had 12 men on the field. From the 49, Young hooked up with Jeffery over the middle for 15 followed by a 13-yard left sideline pass complete to WR Tyrell Gatewood. Consecutive penalties (holding + false start) moved the ball back to the 33 where Texas faced 2nd-and-20. An inside screen to Benson collected six before a dump pass to Benson covered 12 yards, setting up 4th-and-2 at the BU 15. After Benson picked up three to move the chains, Young's seven-yard completion to SE Limas Sweed set up first-and-goal from the five. From there, Benson rushed over left guard to spot Texas a 37-7 halftime lead.
"We were really pleased with the drive before the half," Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis said. "Vince did a great job handling that drive. We mixed some runs in and we overcame some penalties in the red zone."
Mixing up runs with passes, Texas opened the second half with a 10-play, 80-yard march capped by Benson's two-yard run. After Benson carried twice for 25 yards, Young's left sideline pass was complete to Scaife for 14. On third-and-8 from the BU 39, Young found TE David Thomas (the D-I leader in receiving yards by a TE) for 15. A draw play to Benson picked up 19 yards to the Baylor five. Benson then carried it over two plays later. The Horns led 44-7 with but 2:31 eclipsed from the third quarter.
For the second time all afternoon, Baylor opened a drive in Longhorn territory at the 45. King's nine-yard completion to Ziegler on 4th-and-five moved the sticks, only to see his next attempt glance of the hands of TE Marcus Venus, who'd gotten separation in the Longhorn end zone. On second-and-goal from the five, Ross came up with a fine defensive move to strip the ball from TE Mike Miller on the right sideline of the south end zone. Then, on fourth down, Harris swatted away King's pass at the left pylon to complete the goal line stand.
"The defense set the tempo," Brown said. "I thought they played great."
Scrimmaging mainly against the second-team defense, Baylor reached the Longhorn 10 where Ross and Geiggar snuffed out a reverse for no gain. With QB Chance Mock and RB Ramonce Taylor in the backfield, the Longhorn drive went no where. PR Willie Andrews returned a 36-yard Greg Johnson punt 38 yards to the Longhorn 11. On 4th-and-goal from the five, backup QB Shawn Bell connected with WR Marques Roberts on a six-yard play action TD pass over FS Matt Melton to complete the scoring with 8:02 left on the game clock.
"I'm not as pleased with our backups but in the next few weeks I don't think we'll be in that situation." Brown said.
Former Longhorns and first Round NFL draft picks Roy Williams and Marcus Tubbs were guests on the Texas sideline. Former OG Tillman Holloway was also on hand to receive a Distinguished Alumni award. Williams, meanwhile, sought to honor Longhorn alum Chris Simms by wearing the former quarterback's Tampa Bay jersey.
"All the fans gave Chris a hard time and I'm a big supporter of Chris," Williams said. "I think he's the best quarterback that's come through here. I'm not saying anything about Major Applewhite but I thought Chris was the best quarterback to come through here. The ball just didn't fall his way in the big games. It wasn't all his fault but that's the way the fans knew it. I think he's going to be a great NFL quarterback."
Williams spent all day Friday with his former teammates and later joined them at the hotel. Success has not spoiled the former Longhorn, Brown said.
"They haven't changed; they just have a lot more money," Brown smiled. "They're multi-millionaires but they're still kids."
Coaches did not report any significant injuries, other than noting that DJ got his bell rung near the goal line in the first half. That leaves only Wright's ankle injury as the key health issue hitting into the OU game."
"I talked to him as he was walking off the field and he said he was feeling better," Robinson said. "Only time will tell."
Kick-off is set for 11 a.m. (CDT) in an ABC national telecast.