AUSTIN, Texas -- Nik Shimonek came off the bench in the fourth quarter to throw two touchdown passes and Texas Tech rallied to beat Texas 27-23 Friday night and earn a victory that could save coach Kliff Kingsbury's job.
Kingsbury's future has been in doubt after five seasons but the rally made the Red Raiders (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) bowl eligible after missing the postseason last year.
"At times it slips into (your mind) because you think about missing your players. That's the hardest part. You try to focus on what you can control and that's get your team ready," Kingsbury said.
When pressed on his job status, Kingsbury said, "That's not a decision for me to make. I want to be here."
Shimonek, the starter all season, had been benched for McLane Carter, but came in with the Red Raiders trailing 23-13. His first drive included a 51-yard completion and his short touchdown pass to T.J. Vasher cut it to 23-20.
"I told him he was about to run out of time," Shimonek said. "And then he put me in."
Texas' final drive ended when Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw another interception at the Texas Tech 20 with 1 minute to play.
Ehlinger passed for 239 yards and a touchdown but the Texas offense slogged through most of the final three quarters. The Longhorns ran for just 18 yards and had deep drives end in field goals of 19 and 20 yards by Josh Rowland instead of touchdowns.
Texas (6-6, 5-4) had already clinched its first bowl berth since 2014 under first-year coach Tom Herman but must win its postseason game to avoid a fourth consecutive losing season.
Texas Tech: Red Raiders athletic director Kirby Hocutt, who is also the chairman of the selection committee for the College Football Playoff, has plenty to contemplate about Kingsbury and the future of the Red Raiders program. Kingsbury is 30-32 with three losing seasons in five years. Kingsbury's decision to start Carter was risky but he made the right move in the fourth quarter to go back to Shimonek and it may earn him more time with the program where he once was a record-setting quarterback.
Kingsbury is under contract through 2020 and would include a buyout of nearly $6.8 million if let go after this season.
Texas: The loss will make for a bitter off period before the bowl game. The Longhorns missed the chance to earn a seventh win for the first time since 2013 and the chance to end the regular season on a three-game win streak. The offense continues to be the problem for the Longhorns, who have struggled to move the ball all season under coordinator Tim Beck.
"We are dead set in making it our mission in life in making sure these seniors go out with a positive experience and a win in a bowl game, wherever that may be, and give us some momentum in the offseason," Herman said.
SHORT FIELD FAILURES
Texas lost in large part because it couldn't punch the ball into the end zone for touchdowns. The drives that ended in short field goals both had first-and-goal inside the Red Raiders' 5 yard line. The running game continued to get pushed around at the line of scrimmage.
Texas Tech lead the Big 12 in forced turnovers and got four in the second half with two fumble recoveries and the two big interceptions. The Red Raiders didn't capitalize on the fumbles in the third quarter but they at least kept the Longhorns off the field. The interceptions were game changers.
Texas Tech: Bowl game to be announced
Texas: Bowl game to be announced