CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Chris Simms and Cedric Benson made it a happy return to Kenan Stadium for Texas coach Mack Brown.
Simms passed for 298 yards and four touchdowns and Brown rushed for 208 yards and two scores as the second-ranked Longhorns built a 24-point lead and rolled to a 52-21 victory over North Carolina.
In 10 seasons at North Carolina, Brown turned around the program and left in December 1997 as the second-winningest coach in school history. He defeated the Tar Heels at home last year and was greeted by a crowd of 60,500 - the second-largest in Kenan Stadium history.
"I am proud to be a part of the two biggest crowds in school history," Brown said. "I was just on the wrong side of one of them."
Simms completed just 14-of-30 passes, but seven covered at least 20 yards. The Tar Heels (1-2) twice climbed within 10 points in the second half, but Simms had the answer on each occasion, throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chad Stevens late in the third quarter and connecting with Roy Williams for a 58-yard score early in the fourth.
"There were a lot of momentum swings," Brown said. "Our offense had to pick it up tonight because our defense is a little banged up."
"We just could not stop them after scoring," North Carolina coach John Bunting said. "We had several missed tackles and we're a young defense. We are going to take chances and try to make plays against the No. 2 team in the country."
Williams had five receptions for 136 yards and a pair of scores, moving into first place on the Longhorns' all-time list with 17 touchdown catches.
Benson kept the offense balanced, carrying 31 times and scoring on runs of four and 17 yards.
"It's hard for me to believe that one guy could rush for 200 yards on our defense," Bunting said. "That's hard for me to swallow. We've got to get our team to tackle better."
It was a long night for North Carolina's Darian Durant, who was 12-for-23 for 158 yards and a touchdown and twice was intercepted in the end zone.
"We know that we can play with just about anybody in the country," said Durant, who also ran for a career-high 74 yards. "Texas was a great team, and we were right there. If we cut down on the turnovers and everybody just does their assignment, we can beat these top teams."
Texas scored on its first three possessions and had a 24-0 lead nine minutes into the second quarter.
A 42-yard screen pass from Simms to running back Brett Robin set up Dusty Mangum's 22-yard field goal. After forcing a punt, the Longhorns raced 71 yards in 84 seconds, taking a 10-0 lead on Simms' 35-yard pass to a wide-open Ivan Williams.
After Dan Orner missed a 49-yard field goal attempt for the Tar Heels, Benson carried seven times for 42 yards on a 68-yard drive that ended 78 seconds into the second quarter with his four-yard waltz up the middle.
Texas finally was forced to punt on its next possession, but Simms hit Roy Williams for a six-yard score the next time the Longhorns had the ball to make it 24-0.
North Carolina finally came to life late in the second quarter as Durant scrambled 27 yards for a touchdown. He led the Tar Heels deep into Texas territory on the first possession of the third quarter but was picked off in the end zone by safety Dakarai Pearson.
But UNC got within 24-14 later in the period as center Jason Brown fell on teammate Jacque Lewis' fumble in the end zone.
The Longhorns wasted no time in restoring a 17-point lead. Freshman Selvin Young returned the ensuing kickoff 38 yards and a penalty moved Texas into North Carolina territory. Simms found Roy Williams for a 35-yard gain, then hit Stevens for a 10-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage.
Durant connected with Sam Aiken for a 15-yard touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter, but Benson carried four straight times for 22 yards before Simmons and Williams hooked up on a clinching 58-yard TD.
"We are taught to never hold your head down no matter what happens. So we aren't going to hang our heads," Lewis said. "We are going to get better and improve game to game."