MANHATTAN, Kan.-Kansas State used a strong second half to defeat No. 18 Texas 42-24 and clinch the Wildcats' first conference championship since 2003.
The No. 6 Wildcats (11-1, 8-1) clinched the conference's automatic BCS Bowl berth and likely will face No. 5 Oregon in the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl.
K-State trailed 10-7 at halftime, but outscored the Longhorns (8-4, 5-4) 35-14 in the second half.
Kansas State rebounded from its only loss of the season, a 52-24 setback at Baylor two weeks ago. That loss ended the Wildcats' chances at the BCS Championship game, but a conference title was still available.
The game was a back-and-forth affair until late, with four lead changes and the largest lead coming with less than three minutes remaining. A fumbled punt by Texas with 7:53 remaining and trailing 28-17 ended the Longhorns' chances of a comeback.
The Wildcats rattled off an eight-play, 39-yard drive that took 4:42. John Hubert ran it in from 1 yard out for the score. After Allen Chapman picked off a Case McCoy pass, the Wildcats sealed the victory with a 9-yard jaunt by Klein for the score. Texas added a late touchdown on a 9-yard touchdown catch by Malcolm Brown.
Klein finished the night with 22 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed eight of 14 passes for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Kansas State needed a spark to start the second half, and the Wildcats got it on the first play when John Hubert ran for 28 yards. It started a 75-yard drive that helped the Wildcats retake the lead, 14-10. Hubert capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown off left tackle.
But Texas answered right away with a seven-play, 90-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Brown. McCoy hit Johnathan Gray for 30 yards, and D.J. Monroe had a 46-yard run on the drive.
But with a conference title to play for, Kansas State refused to go down easily. Klein took things into his own hands on an 11-play, 67-yard drive to help the Wildcats regain the lead. Klein rushed seven times for 38 yards, plus completed two passes for 28 yards. Hubert had the other two carries on the drive, and ran it in from the 2 to give K-State a 21-17 lead.
The Wildcats defense stepped up on the next possession and forced a Texas punt. On the first play, Klein hit Tyler Lockett in stride for a 55-yard touchdown that pumped enthusiasm into a sold-out Bill Snyder Family Stadium. It gave the Wildcats a 28-17 lead and the crowd of 50,912 was back into the game, and it may have put Klein back into Heisman Trophy consideration.
Texas wrestled control of the game early in the second quarter after picking off Klein. K-State held a 7-0 lead and appeared to be driving for a two-score lead, but Adrian Phillips intercepted the pass in the end zone.
Klein, in his last chance to impress Heisman voters, was largely ineffective in the first half. He ran six times for 19 yards and was 4-of-10 for 72 yards and the interception.
Kansas State struck first in the game. After trading 3-and-outs, Texas took over at its own 24. On the first play, quarterback Case McCoy threw to the left flat and Nigel Malone picked it off and ran untouched into the end zone. After review, it was ruled that Malone dropped the ball just before the line. Since no one recovered it before the whistle blew, K-State was awarded the ball inside the 1-yard line. On the next play, Klein plunged in for the touchdown.
Kansas State started the next drive on the 1-yard line following a 43-yard punt by Alex King. Klein was 3-for-3 on third down passes and had the Wildcats at the Texas 17 before the interception. On the next play, McCoy hit Daje Johnson on a crossing pattern and Johnson raced 70 yards before stepping out of bounds on the K-State 10. But the Wildcats' defense stiffened and Texas settled for a Nick Jordan 37-yard field goal.
Kansas State couldn't move the ball on its next possession, and Texas answered with a seven-play, 72-yard drive to take a 10-7 lead. McCoy converted a key third and 13 with a pass to Jaxon Shipley. McCoy hit Shipley for a 14-yard touchdown to cap the 72-yard drive.
NOTES: Saturday night marked the final home game for 27 Kansas State seniors. The Wildcats are 22-4 at home over the last four years, including 7-0 this season. ... Kansas State won its third conference championship ever. The Wildcats defeated Oklahoma for the 2003 Big 12 championship and also won the Big 6 championship in 1934. ... This game saw a match-up of two of the four winningest coaches since 1990. Mack Brown leads all coaches with 230 wins in that span. Brown has been at Texas since 1998. He was at North Carolina from 1988-97. Bill Snyder is fourth with 169 wins. Snyder was retired between 2006-08, but came back to coach the Wildcats before the 2009 season. All of Snyder's wins are at Kansas State.