Garrett Gilbert passed for 239 yards and one touchdown and No. 24 Texas used a strong second half to pull away in a 34-9 victory over Rice on Saturday night in Austin, Texas.
Senior running back Fozzy Whitaker had a rushing and receiving touchdown for the Longhorns, who are coming off a disappointing 5-7 record after posting nine straight double-digit win seasons from 2001-2009.
Highly recruited freshman running back Malcolm Brown led Texas with 85 rushing yards.
Rice hung around until midway through the third quarter when the Longhorns used a trick play to give themselves some breathing room. Wide receiver John Harris took the ball on a reverse from David Ash and then flung a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Shipley to give Texas a 20-9 lead.
Tyler Smith led Rice with 67 rushing yards on 10 carries, but the Owls struggled to get anything going against the Texas defense.
The Longhorns surrendered only 224 total yards, forced two turnovers and limited Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue to 79 yards on 14-of-29 passing.
Texas has beaten Rice in 40 of the last 41 matchups, and the Owls haven’t won in Austin since 1965.
Rice is just 4-16 in its last 20 true road openers, and the only wins were against non-BCS schools.