As undefeated teams fall like dominoes every week — the Florida Gators in Jacksonville, the Oregon State Beavers in the Pacific Northwest — Kansas State simply needs to hang on for the final portion of its schedule. The Wildcats dispatched Texas Tech with surprising ease Saturday 55-24 with Collin Klein accounting for four touchdowns. Four more wins and the Wildcats could be in the national championship game.
Klein is the Heisman frontrunner right now, having led his team to impressive road wins at Oklahoma and West Virginia against two quarterbacks who received more preseason fanfare than he did. The senior, third nationally in completion percentage and tied for second in rushing touchdowns, seems to be dealing with the pressure well.
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More Conference Notebooks
Big 12: K-State keeps hype in perspective
Pac-12: USC struggles upend Pac-12 South
Big Ten: Future brighter in Twin Cities
ACC: Experience paying dividends at QB
Big East: Strange road at the top
SEC: Bulldogs on track for SEC title shot
“I think I have been very blessed,” Klein said after the win Saturday. “God has provided my upbringing in a way that I have had parents and coaches who have invested in me and have provided a foundation to show me what is really important. Success is fleeting in this world. There are bigger things at stake, and I recognize that we are human and we do make mistakes and are susceptible to complacency or whatever you want to call it. But that is the first step to be able to identify, attack it and go against that sin nature every day.”
The Wildcats have been consistent this season. They are outside the top 30 in total defense and total offense, but wear the opposition out with a devastating ground attack, good for four touchdowns Saturday.
They’ll keep playing their game, long drive after long drive, which isn’t nearly as thrilling as a fast-tempo style like Oregon’s, but certainly as effective. As the national focus becomes centered on Manhattan, Kan., head coach Bill Snyder — frontrunner for coach of the year — is glad his team is able to block all the attention out.
“They make more of college football than they do of the presidential elections. That shuts down on Saturday and all it is is football. Everybody gets caught up in it. The world gets caught up in it and it is so easy to lose sight of things,” Snyder said. “I am proud of our young guys up to this point in time because you do not know about tomorrow. Up to this point in time they have handled it well. They go back to work. It is not easy, it just gets harder. I keep saying there is a border right there and what we do from this point in time, on, will define us collectively.”
Baylor (3-4, 1-3 Big 12)
• Four consecutive losses for the Bears, the latest being a 35-21 defeat on the road at Iowa State, and Art Briles’ program is suddenly facing an uphill battle toward bowl eligibility. That’d represent a major step back for Baylor, which has played past the beginning of December the last two seasons. The problem isn’t totally the loss of Robert Griffin III as quarterback Nick Florence leads the third-best offense in the country. The biggest issue has been on defense, where the Bears are last in FBS in total defense. Baylor has scored just 21 points in two of its last three games. With such a porous defense, that’s not going to cut it in the Big 12.
Next Game: vs. Kansas Nov. 3
Iowa State (5-3, 3-2 Big 12)
• Steele Jantz has got his job back, and what a statement he made in the 35-21 win against Baylor with five touchdowns, 381 yards and one interception. Jantz, who began the season as the starting quarterback before struggling offensively, also added 54 yards on the ground. Both the yardage totals and the five touchdowns are career highs for Jantz.
“That does a lot for a young man’s confidence,” head coach Paul Rhoads said.
• ISU’s duo of linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein had 11 and 13 tackles, respectively. The two have a combined for 146 tackles this season.
Next Game: vs. Oklahoma Nov. 3
Kansas (1-7, 0-5)
• You cannot script a more heartbreaking loss for the Jayhawks, who were up by seven on Texas, then by three, then suddenly were watching backup quarterback Case McCoy complete a fourth-and-6 and throw the game-winning touchdown pass with 12 seconds left. Cornerback Greg Brown, on the first play of the drive, dropped what would have been the game-sealing interception.
“We don’t take moral victories,” Brown said. “But I can say we took a step forward.”
• Running back James Sims had a career day, pounding the Texas defense for 176 yards. Kansas will surely feed Sims against a Baylor defense that’s giving up 4.5 yards per carry.
Next Game: at Baylor Nov. 3
No. 3 Kansas State (8-0, 5-0 Big 12)
• The Wildcats are set up nicely for a run at an undefeated regular season considering there isn’t a ranked team left to play. They get Oklahoma State and Texas at home and match up favorably with both TCU and Baylor on the road. KSU has to hope the remaining four opponents close out their seasons strong — if the Longhorns could be ranked by Dec. 1, it wouldn’t hurt KSU’s national title game efforts.
• Collin Klein is 19-4 as a starter and is seventh in Big 12 history with 49 career rushing touchdowns.
Next Game: vs Oklahoma State Nov. 3
No. 14 Oklahoma (5-1, 3-1 Big 12)
• Oklahoma’s previously slim national title hopes are now gone after a 30-13 loss to Notre Dame. It doesn’t count as a conference loss so the Sooners can still claim the Big 12 title, though Kansas State would have to lose twice for that to happen.
• Senior quarterback Landry Jones didn’t throw a touchdown, but notched 356 yards against a stout Fighting Irish defense.
“We’re better than we were at the start of the season,” Jones said. “We hit a bump in the road. Maybe the national championship’s not in the picture, that’s probably gone, but we still have the Big 12 and a bowl game up in front of us.”
• After the midseason non-conference contest, Oklahoma returns to league play this weekend with a trip to much-improved Iowa State.
Next Game: at Iowa State Nov. 3
Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1 Big 12)
• After missing a month of play with a knee injury, Wes Lunt returned in sharp form, passing for 324 yards and a touchdown in a 36-14 win against TCU. The Cowboys needed him badly with backup quarterback J.W. Walsh now out the rest of the season with a knee injury.
“Wes played okay,” head coach Mike Gundy said. “Good enough to win. It’s not always easy to go back out and play when you’re young after you’ve had an injury. But I was proud of the way he competed.”
• The Cowboys were down 14-3 at the first quarter, then held TCU scoreless the rest of the day and pulled away behind Lunt’s effort.
Next Game: at Kansas State Nov. 3
Texas (6-2, 3-2 Big 12)
• Well, the Longhorns are bowl eligible, which is what they’ll say matters most this week. However, they were a serendipitous fourth-down conversion (McCoy to Shipley, where have you seen that before?) away from falling to Kansas, which has one win this season and that’s against an FCS opponent. Texas won 21-17 a year after crushing the Jayhawks 43-0.
• Case McCoy was in the game due to the struggles of David Ash, who looked like his freshman form, completing 50 percent of his passes with two interceptions.
“The offensive staff thought he was ready to go … We thought Case was prepared, and he gave us the little momentum that we needed to get it turned in the right direction,” Texas head coach Mack Brown said. “And we made some speed plays there. We did things that we needed to be doing with him.”
Next Game: at Texas Tech Nov. 3
No. 20 Texas Tech (6-2, 3-2 Big 12)
• The Red Raiders were derailed at Kansas State, falling 55-24, but there’s a good chance to get back on track Saturday against Texas, which is No. 99 nationally in total defense.
• Seth Doege put up good numbers — 35 for 50, 321 yards and two touchdowns — but couldn’t hang with Kansas State’s Collin Klein. Doege, in scoring position, was sacked and subsequently fumbled the ball, which the Wildcats returned for a touchdown.
“I was just trying to do too much,” Doege said. “It’s one of those things where they checkmated me.”
Next Game: vs. Texas Nov. 3
TCU (5-3, 2-3 Big 12)
• The Horned Frogs came out strong against Oklahoma State, taking a 14-3 lead, so there weren’t any initial signs of a hangover after the triple-OT loss to Texas Tech the previous Saturday. However, they couldn’t add anything to the scoreboard after the first frame, losing 36-14.
• Quarterback Trevone Boykin was strong in the previous two games, but only completed 21 of 40 passes for a touchdown and an interception, with just 4.6 yards per attempt.
• TCU’s streak of scoring 20 or more points ended at 33 games, snapping the best string in the nation.
Next Game: at West Virginia Nov. 3
No. 23 West Virginia (5-2, 2-2)
• Hopefully the Mountaineers used their bye week to sort through the offensive kinks. The once other-worldly offense put up 14 points in each of their last two games, both losses, to Texas Tech and Kansas State.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen says it’s all about the fundamentals.
“Offensively, we need to do a better job of getting in the right play. Defensively, we need to do a better job of getting in the right plays,” Holgorsen said. “We have to do our best as coaches and they have to make the play. We have to do a better job of that as coaches and as players.”
Next Game: TCU Nov. 3
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