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Midseason review: Kansas State

Kansas State Wildcats

Record: 4-1 (1-1 Big 12)

Kansas State a better team than it was a year ago with improved personnel -- led by an influx of new receivers -- and improved returning starters. Despite an embarrassing loss to Nebraska last week, Kansas State is 4-1 and looks well-positioned to qualify for a bowl game, a step up from sitting at home with a 6-6 record and an extra FCS win on its résumé in 2009. The passing game suffered a huge blow with Brodrick Smith's broken leg against the Huskers, and he'll miss the rest of the season, but the Wildcats clearly go as Daniel Thomas goes. Quarterback Carson Coffman has made plays late in games when the team has needed him, and Kansas State has won three games this year that were still in doubt in the final minutes, but Coffman was briefly benched for backup Collin Klein against Nebraska. Coach Bill Snyder says Coffman is still his starter, but the senior will have to be better to avoid being benched for good as he was last year for the more mobile Klein.

Offensive MVP: RB Daniel Thomas – There might not be a player more important to his team's success in the Big 12, with apologies to Baylor's Robert Griffin and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez. Thomas has 127 carries so far this year and is third in the Big 12 with 691 yards rushing. Without Thomas, the Kansas State offense would be without a reliable playmaker. Twice already this season, the Wildcats have jumped on Thomas' back and he's carried them to a win. Against UCLA, he ran for a career-high 234 yards on 28 carries and added 181 more on 34 carries against Iowa State. Both were narrow wins by Thomas and Co. Without him, both are losses and the Wildcats would be headed into the thick of conference play at 2-3.

Defensive MVP: DE Brandon Harold – Harold is Kansas State's most talented defensive player, and as a sophomore, he's been among its most productive, too. He's made 27 tackles, including six for loss and a pair of sacks. He's also broken up a pair of passes and forced two fumbles. He'll keep getting better fast, and could blossom into one of the conference's best defensive linemen.