Saturday, October 15, 2011
Kansas State's astonishing run continues
By ESPN.com staff
A year ago, Kansas State lost five of its last seven games, but still finished with seven wins.
Yearly improvement is the hallmark of Bill Snyder-coached teams and this year's Wildcats squad is doing exactly that.
That continued with a 41-34 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock, Kansas State's fourth consecutive win as an underdog and its fourth consecutive win while getting outgained in total offense.
Kansas State is making plays when it needs to. Tonight, it was a timely fumble and interception in the fourth quarter to stymie Texas Tech drives and help put the Wildcats up double digits.
Snyder's getting the most out of what he has. Collin Klein is carrying this team. He's a less than polished passer, but he made two huge throws to help dig Kansas State out of an eight-point hole in the second half.
He topped 100 yards rushing and ran for three touchdowns, taking another beating with 23 carries. He's had at least 19 carries in all six wins this year.
Daniel Thomas carried the ball 545 times in two seasons for this team, leading the Big 12 in rushing in 2009 and 2010. He's gone. K-State's five-star transfer, hyped recruit Bryce Brown isn't on the team.
The answer? Unheralded Waco native John Hubert, who has been a reliable option and had 71 yards rushing tonight and joined Klein in the national top 50, making Kansas State one of just two teams in the nation with two rushers in the top 50.
The defensive revitalization is equally amazing, prodded by newcomers Arthur Brown and Nigel Malone, who intercepted a pass and returned it 24 yards for the game's first score.
Even recovering a late onside kick wasn't enough to get Tech back in the game. The Red Raiders turned it over on downs without getting a first down.
Once gain, when Kansas State's defense needs a stop, it gets one. It happened against Baylor. A last-minute goal-line stand beat Miami.
By now, it's time to stop wondering why and how the Wildcats are winning these games. It's happening, and Kansas State is done being an underdog for a week.
It will travel to face Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown next week, and it may do it with a top 15 ranking.
After that? A home date with national title contender Oklahoma.
Anybody willing to count out Kansas State in that one?