MANHATTAN, Kan. — With 2 minutes, 42 seconds remaining, Kansas State players on the sideline started jumping, helmets held aloft, music blaring on the stadium speakers.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Look at that! radio analyst Stan Weber said on the air. Thats a Bill Snyder sideline! I dont think Ive ever seen that on a Bill Snyder sideline!
If anybody would know, its Weber, former quarterback and longtime K-State voice. What he and everybody else in The Bill was witnessing and feeling in the closing moments of the Wildcats 42-24 triumph over Texas was a championship.
Kansas State, Big 12 champions.
And if you want to tack on another title, Collin Klein, Heisman Trophy finalist.
The Heisman competition figures to be a three-way battle among Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo and Klein, with Manziel perhaps the front-runner.
But Klein got the hardware he wanted, a Big 12 trophy presented to the Wildcats on the field after the game amid a purple-clad field rush.
Before he could reach Texas counterpart Mack Brown, Snyder was surrounded by his team with defensive end Ryan Mueller the first to offer an embrace.
Moments later, a platform was carried out on the north side of the field. Thousands remained on the field and listened to Queens We Are the Champions, snapping cellphone photo memories.
Athletic director John Currie took the microphone.
Coach Snyder, you said when you returned four years ago you wanted to calm the waters, Currie said. But youve created a purple tidal wave.
Cheers, for a program, and a coach who resumed his career in 2009 after premature retirement and has remarkably matched the greatest heights of his first tenure.
Never mind that technically, the Wildcats share first place with Oklahoma, which won at TCU earlier in the day and also finished 8-1 in the Big 12. The Sooners were awarded a trophy in the locker room. But the Wildcats Norman conquest in September is why the Wildcats are headed to the postseason as champions.
This was Kansas States moment, and a rare occasion, a third championship in a century of conference affiliation.
Snyder owns two of them the other his 2003 Wildcats upset of top-ranked Oklahoma at Arrowhead Stadium and he joins the Sooners Bob Stoops and Texas Brown as the only coaches in Big 12 history with multiple conference championships.
Bowl bids are made final today, but the smart fans have made Fiesta Bowl reservations, and the opponent is probably going to be Oregon. Two weeks ago, that looked like the national championship matchup, but that destination was dashed when Kansas State fell to Baylor and the Ducks to Stanford on the same evening.
As for the Heisman, Kleins bid got stronger throughout the game.
Through 21/2 quarters on Saturday this was anybodys game.
The Longhorns led by a field goal at halftime and 17-14 with 7:24 left in the third.
Now was Kleins time.
He kept the ball seven times on an 11-play touchdown drive that regained the lead. When the Wildcats got the ball back, Klein launched his best pass of the night, a 55-yard rainbow to Tyler Lockett on the drives first play. Early in the fourth quarter for the first time all night, Kansas State had a two-score lead.
Texas has seen plenty of Klein.
Last year, he led the Wildcats to a grinder victory in Austin. Two years ago, he introduced himself to Texas when he made his first career start for injured Carson Coffman and flummoxed the Longhorns in a 25-point victory.
But the stakes were never greater than Saturday.
Kansas States conference title and Texas own BCS hopes were on the line, and the Wildcats broke slowly from the gate.
Theyd been there before. Missouri State, which finished eighth in the Missouri Valley, hung around into the third quarter in the opening game.
But this felt different. The Wildcats had two weeks to heal physically and recharge emotionally after the Baylor debacle.
If anything, a Kansas State charge was expected, especially the way the Wildcats reacted to burnt orange over the years five straight victories over the Longhorns like a bull to a flapping red cape.
After an exchange of three and outs, cornerback Nigel Malone unleashed the energy, stepping in front of Case McCoys floating pass across the field for an easy interception. With nothing but end zone before him, Malone galloped, relaxed and dropped the ball, a half-yard too soon.
K-State got it at the 1 and Klein plowed it in, but his interception at the goal line later in the half stopped another drive.
But what a finish.
The Wildcats scored four unanswered touchdowns after Texas had taken that third-quarter lead, and the final one was finished by Klein, from 9 yards, giving him 103 rushing yards for the night.
He probably wont win the Heisman. Kansas State isnt playing for the national championship, but everything about this season has been amazing.
An 11-1 record, with a chance to become the first team in program history to reach a dozen. Some 45 minutes after the trophy celebration, fans continued to mingle on the field, take photos, soak it all in.
Thats how a championship feels.
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to email@example.com.