HOUSTON (AP) _ Tyrone Moss rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns, Tavares Gooden recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a score and Baraka Atkins scored on a 58-yard fumble return to lead No. 4 Miami to a sluggish 38-13 victory over Houston on Thursday night.
Moss' best rushing performance of his short career and the Hurricanes' opportunistic defense and special teams offset a particularly erratic performance by quarterback Brock Berlin.
Berlin was pretty much the only thing keeping Miami (3-0) from a lopsided victory. He finished 13-of-23 for 99 yards and was sacked seven times, often because of his own poor decisions in the pocket.
Miami also allowed its first offensive touchdown of the season: Kevin Kolb's 6-yard scamper into the end zone in the final moments of the first half. The Cougars' sideline erupted in celebration, with a few players tossing their helmets into the air.
The Hurricanes had gone 11 quarters and an overtime without giving up an offensive touchdown.
Thought to be a national title contender, Miami revealed plenty of glaring flaws against a team that was a four-touchdown underdog and was without its leading rusher. The Hurricanes were pushed around on defense by Houston's inexperienced offensive line and never could sustain any offensive momentum.
Houston tailback Anthony Evans, who rushed for 282 yards against Army last week, missed the game after straining his right calf during pregame warmups. He watched from the sidelines in his uniform, leaning on crutches with a boot on his leg.
Predictably enough, Houston got off to a rough start without him.
The Cougars (1-3) barely got their first play off on time, dropped a pass on the third play, committed a false-start penalty on the next and were nearly intercepted on third down. Gooden scored on Anthony Reddick's blocked punt on fourth down, 55 seconds into the game.
Frank Gore and Moss, a sophomore, added a couple of short scoring runs to give Miami a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Hurricanes didn't score again on offense until Moss' 5-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
Houston, playing its fourth game in 19 days, made Miami work a little harder than it expected in its first visit to Texas in seven years.
The Cougars failed to score on several chances deep in Miami territory. The Cougars drove inside Miami's 20 five times, and came away only with Kolb's touchdown run and two field goals.
Ryan Gilbert, a transfer from LSU, proved to be an adequate replacement for Evans. He rushed for a career-high 84 yards on 26 carries. Kolb was 11-of-28 for 156 yards.
This was the first meeting between the teams since Miami routed David Klinger and the Cougars 40-10 in 1991 at the Orange Bowl. It remains ESPN's highest-rated Thursday night game.