Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Kansas State was content just staying atop the Big 12 football standings, but now the Wildcats are in prime position to have a better than good shot to become national champions. All they need to do is win out.
Forget all the talk about the best in the Big 12. Kansas State is well on its way to that this season, But after the Wildcats' thoroughly convincing thrashing of once-top-1- ranked West Virginia at their place in Morgantown, W.V., on Saturday night, Bill Snyder's bunch is now solidly in the picture for the national title, as well.
Kansas State went to West Virginia and smacked the Mountaineers right in the face from the opening kickoff and relentlessly thereafter. From the start, it appeared that West Virginia was still trying to figure out what went so horribly wrong the week before in the Mountaineers 35-point loss to Texas Tech. Kansas State smoked the defenseless Mountaineers 55-14, and it actually could have been worse.
The Wildcats, led by their senior leader and quarterback Collin Klein, who after his dominating performance against West Virginia now has to be considered the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, scored on their first eight possessions of the game. Meanwhile the high-scoring West Virginia offense couldn't get anything going right against the tough-minded and well-disciplined Kansas State defenders. We're talking about the same West Virginia team that was ranked seventh in the country just two weeks ago.
The Mountaineers, the defending Big East champions, are now 2-2 in Big 12 play and, for all practical purposes, out of the conference title chase in their first season in the league.
The 55 points scored by Kansas State on Saturday were the most ever scored by a K-State team against a ranked opponent on the road.
It just goes to prove that teams that play great defensive get the best of great offensive teams way more than the other way around. And if you can advance the ball pretty much at will with a balanced offense and a multi-threat quarterback like Klein, and use up valuable clock time with long drives that end in points, adding a stout defense to the mix all but serves as the nail in the coffin for one-dimensional teams like West Virginia.
Kansas State remains fourth this week in the two human polls, but the Cats are now third in the all-important BCS standings that determine the two teams that will eventually play for the national championship. Alabama and Florida are the two teams ahead of the Wildcats, and Alabama still has LSU to play at LSU and Florida has Georgia left and has to go to Florida State to play.
The Wildcats have now beaten Oklahoma and West Virginia this season, both on the road. No other team in the conference will replicate that this season.
Of K-State's remaining five games, three are at home at Bill Snyder Family Stadium - against Texas Tech this Saturday, Oklahoma State and Texas to end the regular season. The Wildcats have two remaining road games, at TCU and at Baylor. Klein and Company will be favored in all five games, and if K-State can run the table and remain undefeated, the chances of them playing in the national championship are exceptionally good.
No question it was a great weekend for Kansas State and Big 12 football in general. In other games last weekend, Oklahoma stayed in the hunt for an eighth Big 12 championship, steamrolling Kansas 52-7 and now gets set to take on fifth-ranked Notre Dame in Norman this weekend. Texas got a huge scare from Baylor, but held on at home to win a 56-50 shootout over the Bears.
Texas Tech raised its record to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference, defeating TCU 56-53 in three overtimes, and Oklahoma State had a third game of 300 or more passing yards from freshman backup quarterback J.T. Walsh as the Cowboys improved to 2-1 in Big 12 play with a 31-10 win at home over Iowa State.
Here are five other fascinating facts from games this past weekend in the Big 12:
Five Things We Learned From Week 7
- Kansas State's Collin Klein, more known for his ability to run with the football, set a career-high passing mark of 323 yards and three touchdowns in the Wildcats' dominating 55-14 win over West Virginia. The K-State QB also had four rushing touchdowns against West Virginia. That gives him 41 rushing touchdowns in the last two seasons, a new NCAA FBS record for a quarterback.
- Oklahoma had a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown by WR Justin Brown and a 100-yard kickoff returned for a touchdown by WR/RB Roy Finch on Saturday vs, Kansas. That is the first time in the storied history of Oklahoma football that both a punt and a kickoff have been returned for touchdowns by the Sooners in the same game.
- Kansas has lost eight consecutive games to Oklahoma and 16 straight in the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks last conference win was over Colorado in the 2010 season.
- Texas has forced 12 turnovers and has outscored its opponents 70-10 off of turnovers this season.
- Baylor has lost two conference games in which it has scored 50 or more points (to West Virginia, 70-63, and Texas, 56-50).
This Weekend's Big 12 Games
Texas Tech @ Kansas State
Texas @ Kansas
Notre Dame @ Oklahoma
TCU @ Oklahoma State
Baylor @ Iowa State
Watch for the Big 12 Game of the Week preview - fifth-ranked Notre Dame at eighth-ranked Oklahoma - this Friday.
Follow Big 12 football all season long, including specific news and commentary on the two Kansas teams, at SB Nation Kansas City.