If you weren’t paying attention to Kansas State before, you probably are after its win against Oklahoma. The Wildcats have been strong for the last 10 seasons with a 75-54 record since 2002, but the program has remained under-the-radar. Because the Wildcats take after their mild-mannered coach Bill Snyder, they refused to acknowledge the significance of their 29-14 win against the Sooners on Saturday night.
“It’s a step,” quarterback Collin Klein said.
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SEC: Kansas State getting national attention
Klein, who passed for 149 yards and rushed for 79 more, said the same thing after a home win against Miami (Fla.).
Are the Wildcats legitimate conference contenders? Reason says they could be the best bet of any in the league. The Kansas State defense came up with several huge turnovers and held the Sooners to 88 yards rushing. K-State running back John Hubert has rushed for 100 or more yards in three of his last four games.
Klein has made strides through the air this season — no play was more important against Oklahoma than a cross-field pass to Tramaine Thompson on third-and-11 to keep a scoring drive going. As opponents’ defensive lines grow to respect Klein’s arm, he should become even better on the ground. Since last season, only Wisconsin’s Montee Ball has scored more rushing touchdowns than Klein.
“We knew it would be a battle and it was exactly that,” Klein said. “We credit everyone for hanging together. The defense got big stops and turnovers. Again, we were able to do enough to get a win.”
Regardless of how many more Wildcat wins are on the way this season, the Big 12 and the rest of the nation are certainly beginning to take notice.
No. 25 Baylor (3-0)
• The Bears’ run as a national contender began in earnest last season when they toppled TCU in a shootout. The run nearly met its end when Baylor found itself down by 14 against Louisiana-Monroe after the first quarter last week. A career day from quarterback Nick Florence, who threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns, helped Baylor rally and win 47-42.
• As Baylor begins conference play, it’s worth asking why Lache Seastrunk only has five carries through three games. The Oregon transfer starred in the spring game and was ready to give the Bears an element of speed in the backfield. Coach Art Briles said he hopes “his carries progress and his yards-per-carry stay the same because it is pretty good right now.”
• The Bears have given up 24 points to SMU, 23 to FCS Sam Houston State and 42 to Louisiana-Monroe. Now comes a much tougher test in West Virginia, which is averaging 47.3 points per game, good for eighth nationally.
Next Game: at West Virginia Sept. 29
Iowa State (3-0)
• The Cyclones got through a challenging non-conference schedule unscathed and now have to switch gears for the arrival of Texas Tech and its spread offense this Saturday. As daunting as facing Seth Doege might seem, it’s not hard to forget that Iowa State trounced the Red Raiders last season in Lubbock 41-7. Still, head coach Paul Rhoads is concerned about the quick tempo Texas Tech operates under.
“There are some folks in our league that just go at such an alarming pace, it takes game snaps to adjust to, and that is why we got to get into that league and make that adjustment,” Rhoads said.
• Two Cyclones ran for more than 100 yards last year against Texas Tech — James White (138) and Duran Hollis (101).
Next Game: Texas Tech Sept. 29
Kansas (1-3, 0-1 Big 12)
• The return of running back James Sims after a three-game suspension went well, as he rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns, but the Jayhawks just can’t catch a break. They were up by 10 points against Northern Illinois in the fourth quarter but surrendered three long scoring drives on their way to losing their 17th consecutive road game 30-23.
• Kansas is 94th in total defense, 90th in total offense and 104th in scoring offense. The two offensive stats especially bother head coach Charlie Weis. “I’m really disappointed,” Weis said after the loss.
Next Game: at Kansas State Oct. 6
No. 7 Kansas State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
• Saturday’s win against Oklahoma was the highest-ranked team the Wildcats defeated on the road and the first win in Norman since 1997.
• With a grinding ground game, defenses are having a tough time getting the Wildcats off the field. KSU has controlled the majority of the clock in 14 of its last 17 games.
Next Game: vs. Kansas Oct. 6
No. 16 Oklahoma (2-1, 0-1 Big 12)
• From 2009 to Nov. 5, 2011 Landry Jones had a 2.6:1 TD-to-interception ratio, 63 percent completion rate, 7.72 yards per attempt and a quarterback rating of 143.9. However, since Ryan Broyles’ injury last year, Jones has had a 61.2 percent completion rate, 6.83 yards per attempt and a quarterback rating of 120. There are other reasons why Jones’ numbers has sunk, but that November day certainly changed a lot.
• Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Kansas State is Bob Stoops’ first home loss to a ranked team in his OU career.
“We’ve got to do a better job as coaches to polish things and get things to be sharper and more precise,” Stoops said. “The players have got to keep working and getting better as well.”
Next Game: at Texas Tech Oct. 6
Oklahoma State (3-0)
• It’s unlikely the bye week supplied enough time for quarterback Wes Lunt to heal his knee, but the Cowboys don’t think the injury is as bad as they previously feared. Still, there won’t be anything announced officially until the day before OSU hosts Texas. If Lunt can’t play, the coaches are confident in the ability of backup J.W. Walsh, a dual-threat QB who amassed 420 total yards in replacing Lunt against Louisiana-Lafayette.
• The Cowboys forced an NCAA-best 44 turnovers a year ago. Through three games in 2012, they have just three. Getting Texas to cough up the ball, which it hasn’t done much this season, is a priority.
“Sometimes it’s just blind luck, sometimes it’s just not working hard enough,” defensive coordinator Bill Young said. “I’ve got to lean toward the second one. We’re not working hard enough. We’re not being demanding enough as coaches, and our players are not following through and doing the job. We’ve got to do that.”
Next Game: vs. Texas Sept. 29
No. 12 Texas (4-0)
• The Longhorns took advantage of their bye week, using it to dive into film on Oklahoma State and its dynamic spread offense. The Cowboys lead the nation in scoring with 62.3 points per game and are 10th in total yards from scrimmage.
“I know they run a pretty quick tempo from what I remember last year,” defensive tackle Desmond Jackson said.
• Malcolm Brown enjoyed a career day in his first contest against Oklahoma State, rushing for 135 yards and two scores.
Next Game: at Oklahoma State Sept. 29
No. 15 TCU (3-0, 1-0 Big 12)
• The Horned Frogs are glad to take a 27-7 win against Virginia, but they need to tighten things up before conference play begins. For the second consecutive week, TCU coughed up a would-be touchdown and had the ball roll out of the end zone for a touchback. The high-powered teams in the Big 12 will capitalize on those errors.
• Nearly everything Brandon Carter touches is gold. Four of the sophomore’s 14 receptions have gone for touchdowns and he’s averaging over 20 yards per catch. Carter had two one-handed grabs Saturday and got the No. 1 nod on NCAA.com’s Top 10 Plays of the Week.
“He never ceases to amaze me,” quarterback Casey Pachall said.
• TCU has the nation’s longest winning streak with 11. How does that happen? Try this: the Horned Frogs are 80-2 under coach Gary Patterson when holding opponents to 17 points or less. That’s a good start.
Next Game: at Southern Methodist Sept. 29
Texas Tech (3-0)
• For the second year in a row, Texas Tech is 3-0 entering conference play. The Red Raiders are trying to make sure last season’s collapse, when they lost seven of their last eight games, doesn’t happen again.
“I think if you try to compare the two, we’re so much further ahead this year than we were last year,” quarterback Seth Doege said. “That’s a tribute to the leadership and guys really wanting to focus on the common goal, and that’s to win a Big 12 championship.”
• Perhaps, the best test as to how good the Red Raiders really are comes this week against Iowa State, which stomped the Red Raiders last season 41-17.
• The early returns on running back Eric Stephens, injured most of last season, have been good. Stephens is second on the team in rushing with 238 yards and first in touchdowns.
Next Game: at Iowa State Sept. 29
No. 9 West Virginia (3-0)
• Tavon Austin saved the day in a 31-21 win against Maryland, hauling in three touchdown passes while racking up 179 yards. Shawne Alston didn’t receive a carry due to a thigh bruise and without him, the Mountaineers struggled mightily to run the ball, amassing just 25 yards on 25 attempts. On the flip side of the ball, the defense allowed the Terrapins 305 yards passing.
“We didn’t play our best offensively,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “But it was enough.”
• Quarterback Geno Smith is tied with three others for the national lead with 12 touchdowns and is the only one in that group without an interception. He may be licking his chops in anticipation of facing a Baylor secondary that’s 116th nationally in pass defense.
Next Game: vs Baylor Sept. 29
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