UT tightens grip on No. 1 spot

AUSTIN, TX A week after earning Texas' first regular-season No. 1 ranking since 1984 by knocking off Oklahoma, Colt McCoy and the Longhorns used a stunning blend of dominating offense and defense in the first half to crush No. 11 Missouri 56-31 Saturday night.

The game was supposed to be a battle between two national title contenders and Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterbacks in McCoy and Missouri's Chase Daniel. The Tigers had been within one victory of playing for the national title last season and were ranked as high as No. 3 just a week ago.

It wasn't close. Not even for a little while.

The Longhorns (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) played as close to a perfect half of football as you could get, bolting to a 35-0 lead in front of a feverish record crowd of 98,383.

Texas scored on each of its first five possessions as McCoy picked apart the Tigers defense at will. He stiff-armed defenders when he ran and one time when he was nearly sacked and fumbled, he picked up the ball and fired a 23-yard completion.

McCoy finished with 337 yards on 29-of-32 passing with two touchdowns, ran for two more and at one point completed a school-record 17 passes in a row. He stiff-armed defenders away from tackles and one time, when he was nearly sacked and fumbled, he picked up the ball in stride and fired a 23-yard completion.

Missouri (5-2, 1-2) didn't score until Jeff Wolfert kicked a 33-yard field goal on the last play of the half. By that time, the crowd had been taunting the Tigers with chants of "Over-rated!" for nearly 20 minutes. The Tigers tacked on two fourth-quarter touchdowns when the game was well out of reach.

Daniel, the fiesty Texas high school star, needed a big game in his home state to revive his Heisman hopes. The Longhorns kept him on the run, sacking him on the Tigers' third play and holding Missouri to just one first down on its first four possessions. Daniel finished with 318 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Texas led 28-0 before Missouri finally crossed midfield but even that drive collapsed on 4th down at the 7 with just under 4 minutes left in the half.

Naturally, Texas drove 93 yards with McCoy completing six passes, including a 13-yard TD pass to Jordan Shipley.

For Texas, the Longhorns are just halfway through a brutal stretch of games against ranked opponents. In the next two weeks, they play No. 8 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Texas Tech, both of whom are undefeated.

With that gauntlet still ahead, the Longhorns made sure to avoid any letdown following the win over then-No. 1 Oklahoma.

The team quietly buried the Oklahoma game ball somewhere in Austin. McCoy, the cover boy on Sports Illustrated this week and now a top contender for the Heisman, made a show of tossing the magazine in the trash during a team meeting.

The message of those actions was clear: Oklahoma is history and it's time to move on.

Missouri just happened to be the next team in the way. And as good as McCoy was against Oklahoma, he was even better against the Tigers.

With baseball stars Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens on the sideline to watch the rout, McCoy scored Texas' first touchdown on a 6-yard run. His first TD pass was a 32-yard strike to Malcolm Williams, who jumped over the double-coverage of safeties Justin Garrett and Williams for the grab.

And when McCoy dribbled the ball on the ground only to pick it up and throw a strike that kept the last drive of the half alive, he created the "Did you just see that?" moment of the season so far.

With one half of near-perfect half of football, Texas buried not only the remnants of the Sooners and the Tigers, but any doubt about who deserves to be No. 1.

For now.

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