Rice arrived at Provo, Utah, with a four-game winning streak, a 458-yard-a-game rushing offense and high hopes of an upset, but No. 12 Brigham Young didn't cooperate.
With their lead in the Western Athletic Conference's Mountain Division at stake, the Cougars shut down the Owls and got their own running game rolling for a 49-0 shutout Saturday.
"They said they were going to shove the ball down our throats and we shoved it down their throats," sophomore linebacker Darren Yancey said. "Nobody wanted to be 'Upset of the Week.' "
ESPN had picked this game as its "Upset of the Week."
"We decided right then and there we were going to eat Rice," said Yancey, a 275-pound sophomore. "Why not? 70% of the world does."
The Cougars, 10-1 overall overall and 6-0 in the WAC, won their eighth consecutive game and home finale by holding Rice (5-4, 4-2) to 119 yards rushing and none passing.
While BYU's swarming, blitzing defense frustrated Rice, Steve Sarkisian threw two touchdown passes and the Cougars' running backs racked up 323 yards--more than double their 149.6-yard average.
Sarkisian completed 10 of 13 passes--well below his usual 32 attempts per game this season--for 206 yards as the Cougars' rushers carried the load. Brian McKenzie ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns, while Ronney Jenkins added 109 yards.
It was a sharp departure from the BYU norm. The Cougars' passing game ranks third in the nation.
"You can't let a passing team run the ball," Rice coach Ken Hatfield said. "When they do, you're in for a long day."
A 51-10 winner over Utah last week, Rice trailed BYU, 21-0, at halftime. Any hopes for an Owls' rally were quickly crushed 1:56 into the third quarter when James Dye returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown. It was Dye's fourth punt-return touchdown this season, tying three school record.
Three minutes later, McKenzie ran 37 yards for a touchdown, and Mark Atuaia's one-yard dive late in the third put BYU up, 42-0.
The Cougars failed to score in three early drives inside the Owls' 25, but Sarkisian finally connected with Dustin Johnson on an 87-yard touchdown pass play with 10:23 left in the first half.
A fumble by Rice's Benji Wood on the next play set up a five-yard touchdown pass to K.O. Kealaluhi for a 14-0 lead.
Texas Christian 31, Tulsa 24--Basil Mitchell rushed for 215 yards and three touchdowns, including a late 74-yard dash, as TCU rallied for a WAC victory at Tulsa, Okla.
The Horned Frogs (4-5, 3-3), scored four touchdowns in the second half and handed Tulsa (3-6, 1-5) its fourth straight loss.