There may not be one game in Kansas State’s season yet that one can point to as a signature moment, one that would catch the attention of voters and vault the Wildcats higher in the rankings. They have been in every Top 25 from The Associated Press so far this season, but hadn’t yet broken into the top 10. That changed this week, with Kansas State coming in at No. 9 in this week’s ranking, its first appearance in the top 10 since the penultimate poll in 2012.
The No. 9 ranking matches where Wildcats fell in the first College Football Playoff ranking, which was released last Tuesday. It is the second highest place for a Big 12 team this week, only behind TCU, which jumped from No. 10 to No. 6 in this week’s AP ranking following a sloppy victory against West Virginia that required a last-second field goal to win 31-30.
Kansas State makes its jump into the AP top 10 following a resounding 48-14 win against Oklahoma State, which has spent some time in the bottom half of the AP poll this season. Before breaking into the top 10 this week, the Wildcats spent two weeks just outside, sitting at No. 11 despite a win against Oklahoma and a shutout of Texas.This week, the Wildcats fell behind early by allowing a touchdown on the Cowboys' opening drive. Morgan Burns responded by returning the ensuing kickoff for a score and they never looked back, with Jake Waters throwing for two scores and Charles Jones adding two more on the ground. Waters had 223 yards passing and Joe Hubener had one 64-yard pass, while receivers Curry Sexton and Tyler Lockett had 159 and 94 yards, respectively, with a score each.
Kansas State improved its record to 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big 12. Its hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff are alive and well, being the only team yet to lose in Big 12 play. The Wildcats’ only loss on the season came 20-14 to then-No. 5 Auburn, which hopped Alabama to No. 3 in this week’s AP ranking. Outside of that game, coach Bill Snyder's Wildcats are making a bit of a habit of winning in convincing fashion. They are 16th in the nation in points scored (38.3) and 12th in points against (18.6). In their past five game, they have averaged a margin of victory of 24.
The Big 12 schedule gives us another marquee matchup in the upcoming weekend, pitting Kansas State on the road against a TCU team that also has high hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff. The Wildcats have won the matchup in each of the past two years since the Horned Frogs joined the conference. The top-10 battle will be on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
It is a chance for Kansas State to continue trying to match heights it reached in 2012, when it got as high as No. 2 in the AP poll. That year, the Wildcats spent 11 weeks in the top 10 before not appearing in the poll at all in 2013. This season, the Auburn loss sent them to No. 25, but never out of the ranking, and they have consistently been creeping back up ever since.
Notes from the rest of the Top 25:
TCU and Michigan State hopped past Notre Dame, which fell two spots to No. 8 despite a win against Navy. … Baylor made a two-spot improvement to join the top 10 at No. 10. … Ole Miss dropped from No. 7 to No. 12 after its loss to Auburn. … Georgia dropped from No. 9 to No. 17 following its blowout loss to Florida. … UCLA jumped seven spots to No. 18. … Wisconsin was the lone newcomer to the poll at No. 25.