Despite being forced to play their fourth-string quarterback against Texas on Senior Day, the Kansas Jayhawks nearly upset the No. 6 Longhorns, but fell, 27-23, on a touchdown with just 11 seconds left.
KU led 23-13 with 7:41 left in the game after a one-yard pass from Brian Luke to Lyonel Anderson, but Texas quarterback Vince Young led his team to touchdowns on its final two drives, including a 22-yard scoring pass to Tony Jeffery in the closing seconds.
"Our kids played well, played well enough to win, should have won, and it didn't happen," KU head coach Mark Mangino said. "Normally I give credit to our opponents, but I'm not going to do that today because our kids outplayed them and should have won the game, deserved to win, and it just didn't work out."
Luke entered the game midway through the second quarter after Nielsen left with an apparent injury to his right leg. Nielsen had started with Adam Barmann and Jason Swanson out with shoulder injuries and was 9-of-15 for 83 yards in a quarter and a half.
"He did a heck of a job," Mangino said of Luke. "Guy hardly got any practice time... and he did a really good job. I'm really proud of Brian Luke."
Luke led KU on two scoring drives before halftime, helping the Jayhawks take a 9-7 lead over the Longhorns at intermission.
All of KU's first-half points came courtesy of Johnny Beck's leg. Playing his final home game, the senior kicker hit field goals of 39, 29 and 36 yards before halftime. He also missed a 43-yard attempt wide left on the game's opening drive.
Cedric Benson, who finished with 161 yards on 28 carries, scored the Longhorn's only touchdown in the first half with a 16-yard run on the Texas drive before Luke entered the game.
Texas kicker Dusty Mangum gave his team a 13-9 lead through three quarters with 32- and 50-yard kicks in the third period. He was short on a 33-yard attempt late in the quarter.
KU regained the lead two drives later on a one-yard run by Austine Nwabuisi just more than three minutes into the fourth quarter. The drive was set up by a 21-yard punt by Richmond McGee and a 21-yard pass from Luke to Charles Gordon, who held on to the ball at the 1-yard line while getting clobbered by two Texas defenders.
Young found Bo Scaife for first downs on the first two plays of the next drive, but the Jayhawks forced another McGee punt after holding the Longhorns to seven yards on the next three plays.
The Jayhawks extended their lead to 10 points, 23-13, four plays later on a one-yard pass from Luke to Lyonel Anderson. The touchdown was set up by a 73-yard pass from Luke to Simmons on third-and-four from the Kansas 26-yard line.
Young slowly but surely led Texas downfield on its next possession, finishing it with an 18-yard touchdown scamper through the line and past defenders. Mangum's extra point brought the Longhorns within three points, 23-20, with just more than four minutes left.
KU appeared to pick up a first down on third-and-seven on the next drive, but Gordon was called for pass interference just before making a diving catch. The penalty pushed KU back to its own 13-yard line, forcing another KU punt after a short run by Green. Tucker's punt wobbled for just 35 yards, giving the Longhorns first down at the KU 47-yard line.
The Longhorns took a 27-23 lead with just 11 seconds left on the drive, scoring on a 22-yard pass from Young to Jeffery in the left corner of the end zone. Young kept the drive alive earlier with a 22-yard run on fourth-and-18 from the Texas 45-yard line.
After Mangum's kickoff, Luke hit Mark Simmons - who ran out of bounds after the catch - near midfield, but Luke's final pass attempt to the end zone was batted down.
Young finished 22-of-40 passing for 289 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He added 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Luke finished 14-of-25 passing for 225 yards and a touchdown.
Clark Green carried 10 times for 39 yards, and Nwabuisi added 21 yards on four carries.
Simmons had 135 yards on eight receptions, Brandon Rideau caught four passes for 58 yards, and Anderson had four catches for 39 yards.
Jeffery caught seven passes for 131 yards, and Limas Sweed had 50 yards on six receptions.
¢ Texas outgained KU by more than 200 yards - 581 total yards to 348.
All stats are unofficial.