MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Kansas State took a big step along the runway of college footballs beauty pageant with a 55-14 pasting of West Virginia on Saturday.Theres still the hated BCS to contend with, and change is on the way. But not this year. So the computer silliness and voter biases remain part of the game. Tonight after dinner, the second BCS standings will be released. Dont expect much movement after a weekend in which the top five teams, all undefeated, won. And some as impressively as the Wildcats.Top dog Alabama traveled to Tennessee and won a laugher. Florida, second in the BCS, slayed South Carolina. Two days earlier, Oregon blitzed a hot Arizona State team on the road. Notre Dame outlasted Brigham Young in the groups least impressive performance.But Kansas State, fourth in the polls and BCS standings last week, should be no worse today. Not that anybody associated with the program is saying anything about it. Words to explain this amazing season, a 7-0 record and perch atop the Big 12, are chosen carefully.Another step forward, quarterback Collin Klein said. We can still get better.Well, maybe. The Wildcats surrendered a kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter, and that flaw was mentioned in coach Bill Snyders opening statement after the game.Thats instructive. In an otherwise near-perfect performance, Travon Austins return occupied a prominent enough place in Snyders mind to make it part of his postgame speech. The caution theme was sounded by every player who greeted reporters.Room to improve, linebacker Arthur Brown said.But the players who exchanged greetings with delighted Kansas State fans as they left the field were an excited group. So were Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts, who showed up at Puskar Stadium to cheer for their alma mater.There was much to cheer, starting with Klein, who wont simply be the Heisman flavor of the week but a solid favorite to win the games most prestigious award after perhaps the best game of his career.West Virginia schemed to slow him and the Wildcats running game. Klein responded by completing 19 of 21 passes for a career-best 323 yards and three touchdowns. The first scoring pass was a gorgeous rainbow to the outstretched arms of Tyler Lockett in the corner of the end zone. It capped a 92-yard drive and Kansas States dominance on the offensive side was established on that possession.The Wildcats scored on their first eight possessions. The four touchdowns not generated by Kleins arm were provided by his legs and pushed him past Olathes Darren Sproles as the Wildcats career leader in rushing scores.Collin was Collin, Snyder said.K-States defense made certain Geno Smith, the Heisman front-runner before kickoff, wasnt himself. The hottest player in the seasons first half followed his first uneven performance at Texas Tech with his worst.The Wildcats simply reduced Smith to a non-factor. He threw for 143 yards and was intercepted for the first time all season. And then for a second time. Brown grasped the first after Randall Evans got the tip, and Ty Zimmerman picked off the second.I can only point the finger at myself, Smith said.If that means Smith could not avoid an aggressive pass rush, often with just four Wildcats bringing pressure, or find openings in the seams because of sticky coverage, then, yes, it was his fault.That part of the game West Virginias offense against K-States defense was the evenings biggest revelation. The Mountaineers defense has been awful all season. Scoring was never going to be an issue for the Wildcats. But could K-State contain Dana Holgorsens attack, which had melted others?The answer was yes, and the Wildcats made it look easy.Thats big. Defense is a calling card for most teams at the top. In the Southeastern Conference it goes without saying, and defense is why Notre Dame is off to its best start since 2002. Kansas State excels here.The Wildcats case as a national championship contender has been building for weeks. Saturday provided prime-time exposure, but this wasnt K-States strongest statement.That came a month earlier in Norman, Okla., when the Wildcats beat an Oklahoma squad that has blasted everything in its path since then. Just as Kansas State battles to be the most impressive unbeaten team, the Sooners are doing the same among one-loss powers such as LSU and Southern California.Oklahoma can help itself immensely Saturday by knocking off the visiting Irish. Assuming the Wildcats handle a rapidly improving Texas Tech team on Saturday in Manhattan, an Oklahoma victory that night would boost Kansas States BCS standing.No team in the country owns a better victory this season than Kansas States 24-19 Norman conquest, and the stronger Oklahoma becomes, the more the Wildcats are lifted toward a great season becoming something special.If they somehow can get that kickoff-return thing fixed.
Posted on Sat, Oct. 20, 2012 11:49 PMShare Email Print Order Reprints
Almost heaven: K-State in championship chase after win at West Virginia
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