After Kansas State had wrapped up its win against Texas Tech — its eighth victory of the year and another blowout against a Top 15 opponent — wide receiver Chris Harper looked around the postgame interview room and spotted his target.
That target was a member of the K-State Sports Information staff, and, like Harper does with passes thrown his way, he caught it.
“One yard, man?” asked Harper, who finished the game with five catches for 99 yards. “Really? One yard?”
That might be the closest thing to drama you’ll get from these Wildcats. Heading into November, this team is focused, has managed to stay loose, and appears to be showing no signs of cooling off as BCS talk heats up for real.
“Success is fleeting in this world,” said quarterback Collin Klein, who is up for just about every individual college football offensive award, including leading the Heisman talk. “There are bigger things at stake, and I recognize that we are human, and we do make mistakes and are susceptible to complacency or whatever you want to call it.
“But that is the first step to be able to identify, attack it and go against that sin nature every day.”
Given more opportunities lately based on opposition, senior linebacker Jarell Childs is attacking also. Against the Red Raiders, Childs racked up a game-high nine total tackles. He also made the game’s biggest play by scooping up a Seth Doege fumble (after a brutal sack by Meshak Williams) and returning it 56 yards, officially. (He returned it 74 yards for a touchdown before a questionable low-block penalty cancelled the score.)
“I was a little upset at first,” Childs said of his score getting called back. “But, I told everybody it was still a touchdown in my book even though it did not count. Then they all laughed at me.”
The play led to a field goal, but it more importantly thwarted a Tech drive and appeared to let K-State get its feet back under it while the offense struggled early. Soon after, the ‘Cats rolled to a fifth 50-point performance in eight games — this one against the seventh-best defense in the nation. KSU has now scored 56, 27, 55 and 55 in its last four contests.
The impressive wins have built a resume that the BCS formula deemed worthy of a No. 2 ranking behind Alabama. Sunday’s news immediately opened the door to some saying K-State hasn’t done enough to be ahead of Oregon and Notre Dame. Others simply talked of the pressures that come with trying to stay ahead in a four-team (or, let’s be honest, three teams for one, right now) race for two national championship spots.
Childs said the Wildcats aren’t feeling it at all.
“We are not feeling any pressure,” Childs said. “We are not worrying about the wins and losses, we are just focusing on getting better each and every day of the week.”
That is a hymn hummed in perfect melody to K-State head coach Bill Snyder, who slightly marveled at his players’ collective ability to remain focused.
“I mean you look around the country and they make more of college football than they do of the Presidential elections,” Snyder said. “That shuts down on Saturday, and all it is is football. Everybody gets caught up in it.
“The world gets caught up in it and it is so easy to lose sight of things. I am proud of our young guys up to this point in time because you do not know about tomorrow. Up to this point in time they have handled it well. They go back to work. It is not easy, it just gets harder.
“I keep saying there is a border right there and what we do from this point in time, on, will define us collectively.”
- A little more on Childs and future playing time…
Hopefully, we find out a little more today about Tre Walker, who left the game on Saturday after appearing to smack knees with a Texas Tech tight end. At first, I thought Walker spun to the ground to avoid getting hit, which would have meant it took no contact at all before he went down. Seemingly, that would have been much worse. That said, getting hit knee-to-knee at full speed is awful; trust me. As it happens, you consider the comforting thought that cutting your leg off would be a better option.
- An extra game ball should go to defensive back Randall Evans, who collected eight tackles and was credited with forcing a fumble. His coverage this season, the past two weeks, especially, has been beyond words in terms of importance to K-State’s success against both West Virginia and Texas Tech.
- Lastly, K-State had 19 yards on 14 plays through the first quarter on Saturday. It finished the game with 426 yards on 63 plays. So, in other words, after averaging 1.36 yards per play early, K-State then averaged 8.3 yards per play over the last three quarters against Tommy Tuberville’s and Art Kaufman’s Big 12-leading defense.
“Offensively, we did not have it quite figured out yet, and you kind of have to spy a little bit until you find some answers,” Snyder said. “It was not an adjustment. It was just being able to get into the right thing, which we did not, initially.”