Quarterback Zac Robinson #11 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys drops back to pass. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
While Oklahoma State (2-1) didn't exactly get its offense rolling, the Cowboys did enough to beat Rice (0-3), which has opened the season with three straight road games, two against Big 12 Conference foes.
Against a defense that entered the game last among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams against the pass, Robinson completed 14 of 20 passes for 227 yards while Bryant had nine catches for 161 yards, including touchdown grabs of 23 and 10 yards.
Their play helped Oklahoma State overcome the absence of star running back Kendall Hunter, who missed the game with a sprained right ankle.
Rice was within 35-24 after a touchdown with 12:24 left, but Dan Bailey hit field goals of 28 and 42 yards in the final 9:02 for the Cowboys, who lost 45-35 last Saturday to Houston, Rice's Conference USA rival.
That the Cowboys needed those points and defensive stops to feel comfortable at the end of the game was a credit to the perseverance of Rice, which trailed 28-3 after Robinson's 1-yard touchdown run with 11:14 left in the third quarter.
Andre Sexton set up that score with a 35-yard interception return to the Rice 14.
But Rice responded with touchdown runs of 2 yards and 1 yard by Charles Ross, the latter after Travis Bradshaw recovered a fumble by Oklahoma State kickoff returner Perrish Cox, to pull within 28-17.
Each time Rice threatened, Oklahoma State answered with points. Beau Johnson -- who joined Keith Toston in subbing for Hunter -- followed a 38-yard Robinson-to-Bryant pass with a 2-yard scoring run with 1:56 left in the third quarter.
Toston carried 18 yards for 75 yards while Johnson had 12 carries for 28 yards.
Robinson's two touchdown passes raised his career total to 56, pushing him past Josh Fields for the Oklahoma State career lead.
Oklahoma State held the ball for only 11 minutes in the first half but still had 212 yards of offense and led 21-3 at halftime.
The Cowboys took the opening kickoff and went 60 yards in 10 plays, with Robinson hitting Bryant for a touchdown from 23 yards out. It was Oklahoma State's first touchdown in the first-quarter this season.
Rice drove from its own 37 to the Oklahoma State 18 early in the second quarter and lined up for a field goal, but the snap went through the hands of holder Randy Kitchens. After a scramble, Donald Booker scooped up the football and ran 49 yards for Oklahoma State's second touchdown.
Clark Fangmeier pulled the Owls within 14-3 with a 34-yard field goal, but the Cowboys quickly answered as Robinson connected with Bryant on a 10-yard scoring play. It was the 29th Robinson-to-Bryant touchdown pass, the most by an active combo in the FBS. Bryant finished the half with eight catches for 123 yards.
Nick Fanuzzi (182 yards passing) and John Thomas Shepherd (119) continued to rotate at quarterback for Rice. Their primary target was Toren Dixon, who caught nine passes for 120 yards.
Fangmeier's three extra-point kicks raised his career total to 161, setting a Conference USA record formerly held by Stephen Gostowski of Memphis.