Manhattan Texas lost its young star - and a whole lot more.
Quarterback Colt McCoy was hurt scoring a touchdown on the fourth-ranked Longhorns' opening drive, and his replacement struggled in a 45-42 loss to Kansas State on Saturday night that knocked the defending national champions out of the title hunt.
"One thing about Texas," coach Mack Brown said. "There's never a good time to lose."
The Longhorns (9-2, 6-1 Big 12) got within a field goal on Chris Ogbonnaya's one-yard touchdown run with 1:36 to go. But Jordy Nelson recovered the ensuing onside kick and then caught a six-yard pass for a first down that sealed the Wildcats' win.
"I didn't feel good about this one until the very end," said coach Ron Prince, who has Kansas State back on a winning track after losing records in Bill Snyder's final two seasons as coach. "We were coaching our brains out down there at the very end to make this thing go the way we wanted it to go."
Josh Freeman took a knee, and purple-clad fans streamed onto the field to celebrate their biggest win in a few years.
Freeman threw for 263 yards and three scores and ran for another TD for Kansas State (7-4, 4-3), which scored three touchdowns over a 3:06 span in the third quarter on its way to breaking a six-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
The Wildcats also won their third straight and guaranteed their first winning record since they won the Big 12 championship in 2003.
"Our plan was to be the best team in November," Freeman said. "That's the equivalent of playoff football - be the best in November - and we're on our way to do that."
Texas, fifth in last week's BCS standings, had hoped to move up when No. 15 Rutgers stunned No. 3 Louisville 28-25 on Thursday. And when McCoy went in from a yard out for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Longhorns appeared well on their way to doing just that.
But McCoy, whose 27 touchdown passes this season are a school record and two shy of the NCAA's freshman record, got pinned under the pile on the play and came up favoring his right shoulder. He was replaced by freshman Jevan Snead.
It was the first action of the year for Snead, who had pushed McCoy hard for the starter's job this summer. He was 13-for-30 for 130 yards and one score and was sacked five times.
Before he got hurt, McCoy completed all four of his attempts for 51 yards.
"I give credit to their defense," Snead said. "I could have handled it a lot better, but they have a really good defense.
"There were a lot of plays that I could have made but I didn't."
Yamon Figurs caught two touchdown passes for Kansas State and Leon Patton ran for a touchdown and threw to Cedric Wilson for another. Ian Campbell recovered two fumbles, both of which led to touchdown drives.
The Wildcats won despite two disastrous plays by their punt team, which allowed Texas to start two touchdown drives at or inside the 5-yard line.
Snead's 33-yard TD pass to Limas Sweed got the Longhorns within 42-35 with just under 13 minutes left, but Jeff Snodgrass hit a 51-yard field goal with 3:19 left to give the Wildcats some room.
Jamaal Charles ran for 87 yards and two scores for Texas, and Selvin Young ran for another TD. But each also lost a costly fumble in the third quarter, when Kansas State went on its 21-point tear.
Young's 5-yard run early in the period, one play after Michael Griffin blocked Tim Reyer's punt and Tyrell Gatewood recovered, tied the score at 21. But on the Longhorns' next drive, Charles fumbled at Kansas State's 20.
Campbell recovered, and five plays later Patton hit Wilson for an 18-yard TD and a 28-21 lead.
Young fumbled on the second play of the Longhorns' next possession, and Campbell recovered again. Freeman's 30-yard pass to Figurs then put the Wildcats up 35-21.
After Snead threw three incompletions on Texas' next drive, John McCardle blocked Greg Johnson's punt and Daniel Gonzalez recovered at the 23. Gonzalez caught a 20-yard pass from Freeman two plays later, giving Kansas State a first down at the 1, and Freeman took it in on the next play for a 42-21 lead.