AUSTIN, Texas -- Once again, the Texas defense was terrific. And once again the Longhorns' offense fell flat.
And -- dare anyone say it -- they are going to be hearing new arguments about who should be the starting quarterback.
Texas held Kansas State to 112 total yards and eight first downs, but it still wasn't enough to overcome two turnovers by starter David Ash and another anemic performance by the offense in a 17-13 loss to No. 16 Kansas State.
Collin Klein passed for a touchdown and ran for another for the Wildcats (9-2, 6-2 Big 12), who got their fourth win in a row over the Longhorns.
Sophomore quarterback Case McCoy came off the bench to replace Ash in the third quarter and immediately led a touchdown drive. But even with that spark, the Longhorns still have found the end zone just once in the last two games, both losses.
McCoy's 36-yard touchdown pass to Blaine Irby pulled Texas within 17-10. Justin Tucker's second field goal of the game got the Longhorns within four, but the rally died at midfield on the final play of the game. Texas (6-4, 3-4) snapped the ball as time expired and McCoy scrambled around for several seconds before throwing a short pass that fell incomplete nowhere near the end zone.
McCoy completed his first four passes but finished 8 of 16 for 80 yards. That was far more productive than Ash, who struggled for the second straight game and was 7 of 16 for 39 yards with two interceptions that led to a Kansas State field goal and a touchdown.
"I think with David Ash we just couldn't get things rolling," Irby said.
McCoy and Ash could learn a lesson watching Klein, who struggled through a very tough night but still delivered clutch plays to earn the win.
Klein, who came in averaging 101 yards rushing, had just 4 against the Longhorns and was 9 of 17 passing for 83 yards. Chased and knocked around the entire game by the Texas pass rush, Klein was just good enough when he had to be.
After getting sacked for the fourth time, Klein converted a third-and-14 with a 24-yard sideline pass to Sheldon Smith, who barely kept his left foot inbounds. Two plays later, Klein hit Chris Harper with a perfect strike to the corner of the end zone. Texas cornerback Carrington Byndum never turned around on the throw and Harper snagged an easy touchdown to give Kansas State a 10-3 halftime lead.
In the third, Kansas State returned Ash's second interception to the Texas 37 before a pass interference penalty against Byndum set up the Wildcats at the Texas 3. Klein plowed over Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho to put Kansas State ahead 17-3.
"I just love this team," Klein said. "Bottom line is we made some plays. We were able to just get it done."
Klein has 25 rushing touchdowns this season. He needs two more to tie the Big 12 record set by Texas running back Ricky Williams in 1998.
Desperate for a spark on offense, the Longhorns pulled Ash for McCoy, who promptly drove Texas 81 yards to a touchdown.
Texas outgained Kansas State 310-121 but the return of running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron couldn't provide points. McCoy, the younger brother of former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who engineered so many rallies for the Longhorns in his career, couldn't muster another one.
"I like what Case did when he came in," Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. "He provided a spark there."
Texas now has a short week before playing rival Texas A&M on Thanksgiving, the last game as conference foes in a rivalry that dates to 1894. The Aggies will move to the Southeastern Conference next season, and the future of the rivalry is uncertain.
Harsin wouldn't say which quarterback he expects will lead the Longhorns into that matchup.
"We're developing two quarterbacks," he said.