Originally Published: October 21, 2012

Klein moves to the front of the line for Heisman

By David Ubben
ESPN.com

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Kansas State has never had a Heisman winner, but this time last year, Baylor didn't have one, either.

Robert Griffin III made BU history a year ago, and through more than half the 2012 season, there's no denying it anymore: Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein is in position to do the same at Kansas State.

After racking up seven touchdowns (four rushing, three passing) and throwing for a career-high 323 yards in Saturday's 55-14 win over West Virginia, Klein is the new front-runner for the most prestigious individual award in sports.

After Klein completed 19 of 21 passes Saturday, receiver Chris Harper even took to calling him "John," an homage to Elway, who also wore Klein's No. 7.

In their typical understated fashion, neither Klein or Kansas State coach Bill Snyder had much to say about the award. Klein's main message? It's out of his control. Snyder? "We'll see," he said.

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Charles LeClaire/US PresswireKansas State QB Collin Klein will have one more shot to impress Heisman voters on Saturday.

Still, the significance is inescapable. Klein has been the biggest benefactor and catalyst of Kansas State's rise. With the Wildcats' spotless 7-0 record and ascension into the top five of the BCS rankings, he's taken a spot atop the race for the stiff-arm trophy, ousting West Virginia's Geno Smith with his latest move.

"It would be wonderful for Collin and his family and teammates," Snyder said. "It'd be wonderful for everybody."

Klein might have to make sure his team stays undefeated to stay on top of the list, but his lack of eye-popping numbers (Saturday night aside, anyway) don't tell you enough about how he plays.

"His numbers are not always indicative of the fact that he has great command of the game," Snyder said. "His very fine leadership, [he] runs the ball well, manages the game well, throws the ball well and that's not always indicated in the numbers. Sometimes they're up, sometimes they're not."

It's safe to say on Saturday, they were way, way up. Klein turned in a career performance with more on the line than he'd had in any other game of his career. His reward? A spot at the front of the line for the Heisman. Not bad.

"I'm just a man on a great team that's playing extremely hard and playing together, and anything I can do for them, whatever we gotta do, I'll do," Klein said. "That's the mentality of all of us, and it's paying off."

ACC's Coastal Division up for grabs

By Andrea Adelson
ESPN.com

Miami should now turn its attention from hating Florida State to loving Florida State.

Why?

The rival Seminoles play Duke next week in Tallahassee, and the Blue Devils just so happen to lead the ACC's Coastal Division -- and Miami -- with a 3-1 conference record.

So if you are following at home, Miami is not down and out of the division race after losing to No. 14 Florida State 33-20 on Saturday night. Neither is Virginia Tech, after losing to No. 19 Clemson 38-17.

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Jeremy Brevard/US PresswireJela Duncan and Duke have the lead in the Coastal Division, but don't count Miami and Virginia Tech out just yet.

That is the state of the Coastal Division this season.

Duke is the overwhelming story of the ACC weekend, having become bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994 after its thrilling 33-30 win over the rival Tar Heels. If the Blue Devils win out, they will play in their first ACC championship game.

That is a big if, given the schedule that remains. After playing at Florida State, Duke will host Clemson, visit Georgia Tech and play Miami at home in the regular-season finale. Keep in mind that Florida State and Clemson will be favored to win those two games.

Miami, meanwhile, has a bye this week before hosting Virginia Tech on Nov. 1, a Thursday game that no doubt will be critical in the Coastal Division standings. (Virginia Tech already has beaten Duke.) Virginia also remains on the ACC schedule for the Hurricanes, a game that Miami will be favored to win. As for the Hokies, they have two winnable games at the end of the season against Boston College and Virginia. But after Miami, they host Florida State in another Thursday night showdown.

There is still plenty of football left, and it seems nothing will be decided until the season ends. The Coastal Division champ could very well be 7-5 overall if all these teams beat up on one another. That would be "so ACC" in this topsy-turvy season.

Wildcats prove they belong with nation's elite

By Travis Haney
ESPN Insider

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- Kansas State trailed Oregon by three one-thousandths of a point in the initial BCS standings, so the Wildcats will -- some wacky, rogue computer notwithstanding -- pull past the Ducks when the second installment is released Sunday evening.

That's meaningful in some capacity to every member of K-State's team after a 55-14 road whipping of 13th-ranked West Virginia moved the Wildcats to 7-0 and 4-0 in the Big 12. But it means more to senior receiver Chris Harper. He transferred from Oregon to Kansas State, to be closer to his home in Wichita.

"Yeah," Harper, smiling, said late Saturday night. "It means a little something extra."

Harper said he called Ducks back Kenjon Barner (more on him later) on Friday. The former teammates did some friendly chirping and they looked forward to the possibility of their teams meeting in the BCS title game.

"You know, that just might happen," Harper said, stepping out of every player's one-game-at-a-time trance to consider it.

Oregon-K-State still isn't the likeliest of outcomes, not with Alabama and Florida still up top and looking strong Saturday. But it isn't completely implausible, either.

Harper said he "definitely" considers Kansas State to be every bit the team as those around the Wildcats in the BCS standings.

"We just don't get the love that they get," he said. "We beat Oklahoma and everyone's still talking them up. We're like, 'Can we get any kind of love?'

"I hope they [the national audience, media] were watching today. I think we proved something."

To read the rest of Travis Haney's story, click here Insider.

Big Ten's best? How about Penn State?

By Adam Rittenberg
ESPN.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- It's time to stop talking about Penn State as a nice little story.

The narrative about first-year coach Bill O'Brien getting the most out of his presumably talent-starved, transfer-wrecked roster sounds old, boring and, quite frankly, a bit condescending. Because even in praising O'Brien and his Nittany Lions, there's a subtle hint that things inevitably will fall apart. There's a suggestion that at some point, the letdown will happen -- at some point, Penn State will collapse under the weight of all that has happened to its program in the past 11 months.

Keep waiting.

Maybe it's time to be honest about Penn State. This is a merciless football team playing with tremendous confidence and urgency on both sides of the ball. O'Brien and his staff are one step -- or, in games such as Saturday night's -- three steps ahead of the competition, and they have more than enough talent to keep on winning.

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Reese Strickland/US PresswireCoach Bill O'Brien said he's hoping that support areas around the Penn State football program receive an upgrade.

Right now, the Big Ten has no hotter team than the Lions. A week from now, we could be proclaiming Penn State the Big Ten's best team.

Nice little stories don't come into Kinnick Stadium and destroy Iowa the way Penn State did Saturday night in a 38-14 win before 70,585 stunned souls who had striped the stands in black and gold. Nice little stories don't outgain the host Hawkeyes 504-209, record twice as many first downs (28-14), hold the ball for 38:08 and convert 8 of 17 third downs. Nice little stories don't silence a raucous crowd in less than 13 minutes, continuing a trend of first-quarter dominance. (Penn State has outscored foes 66-0.)

"The sky's the limit for us now," senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill said. "Today just speaks a little about how well we can play."

O'Brien talked in July about the season being Penn State's chance to punch back. On Saturday night, the Lions scored a first-round knockout in a place where they hadn't won since 1999. It marked their fifth win in a row after an 0-2 start.

"Every day, we're running out of time," senior linebacker Michael Mauti said. "We don't believe in a lull or anything like that. You only have so many games to suit up in a Penn State uniform. That's something really special that we take a lot of pride in.

"There's so much emotion we bring."

Perhaps Penn State's strongest weapon isn't O'Brien's scheme, which has transformed one of the nation's worst offenses and one of the Big Ten's weakest quarterbacks (Matt McGloin). It isn't a stout defensive front seven or a group of surprisingly dynamic young receivers and tight ends.

It's urgency. The Lions have it, and it shows in their play.

To read the rest of Adam Rittenberg's story, click here.

Stanford dominates Cal with … defense

By Kyle Bonagura
ESPN.com

BERKELEY, Calif. -- It wasn't flashy and it won't be all too memorable, but Stanford's 21-3 win over Cal in the 115th Big Game was exactly the type of game Cardinal coach David Shaw was looking for.

"Very proud of our guys for bringing the [Stanford Axe] back home to Stanford," Shaw said. "It was a great effort, in particular on defense. Dominating, suffocating defense."

His description wasn't an exaggeration. The Cardinal held the Pac-12's No. 3 rushing team to just 3 yards on the ground and kept the Bears out of the red zone on all but two occasions. On their first trip, the Bears couldn't punch it in after facing first-and-goal from the 2, and the second ended on sophomore Wayne Lyons' first career interception.

"This was a blueprint game," Shaw said. "This is what we want to do. We don't care about stats. We don't care about any of that other stuff."

What he does care about is staying true to the model the program has been built on. That hasn't necessarily been the case at times this year, but Saturday's win fit the bill.

To read the rest of Kyle Bonagura's story, click here.

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