AUSTIN (AP) - The Texas Longhorns head into October in desperate need of a win.
That's because if they lose to Oklahoma in Dallas next week, the Holiday or Alamo bowls are looking like the best they can do this year.
Saturday's 41-21 loss to unranked Kansas State stunned Texas on many levels. It was the Longhorns' worst home loss in 10 seasons under coach Mack Brown and dropped them from No. 7 to No. 19. It also sends them into Dallas with a Big 12 loss for the first time since 1999.
It's not unprecedented to win the Big 12 South with two league losses (Texas did it in '96 and '99), but it would seem unlikely. After setting a Big 12 record with 21 consecutive conference victories from the middle of 2004 to late last season, Texas (4-1) has now lost its last three league games.
``We just have to come back and win all of our games now. We lost one so now it's time to wake up and play the rest of them,'' running back Jamaal Charles said.
In fact, Texas may consider itself lucky to get to the Oklahoma game with only one loss. Close wins over Arkansas State and Central Florida had raised questions about whether the Longhorns really could challenge for the Big 12 title this season.
``Now we need to regroup,'' said quarterback Colt McCoy, who suffered a mild concussion and threw four interceptions against Kansas State. ``Keep working hard and get ready for Oklahoma. That's always a huge game and with both of us losing this week, we're both going to want to want to get back on track.''
How McCoy rebounds will be key. After tying an NCAA freshman record with 29 touchdown passes last season, he has been struggling this year - throwing nine interceptions - and he took a pounding from the Wildcats. On his current pace of nearly two per game, McCoy would finish with 22 interceptions this season.
His teammates came to his defense after the game Saturday.
``That's our guy,'' senior offensive tackle Tony Hills said. ``We're going to ride with him the rest of the season and he's going to do a good job for us.''
McCoy's backup is true freshman John Chiles, who got in the game for several plays against the Wildcats. He's a dangerous runner but has completed just one pass. Texas' best option with Chiles is when he and McCoy can be on the field at the same time.
But the loss goes beyond McCoy's tough afternoon.
The offensive line play was spotty, allowing Kansas State to sack McCoy twice and hit him hard on several other plays. Too often, Texas couldn't move the ball on the ground.
Special teams gave up two returns for touchdowns - Texas hadn't given up a punt return TD since 1999 - allowing the Wildcats to snuff out any Longhorns momentum. Punter Trevor Gerland averaged 26.3 yards on three punts before he was replaced. When Justin Moore booted one 41 yards to the Wildcats 11, Jordy Nelson returned it for a touchdown that made it 34-21.
``Every time the kids did something to come back, Kansas State did something to take it away,'' Brown said.
Making the situation even more precarious for Texas this week is that Oklahoma is in the same position.
A Sooners team that looked so good through its first four games lost at Colorado after a second-half collapse. Colorado rallied from 17 points down to win.
Just like Texas, the Sooners will recognize that they must win or be relegated to also-ran status for the rest of the season.
``We just have to do the best we can do to get rid of this one,'' Brown said. ``We have to get ready to play OU.''

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