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November 12, 2012

K-State moving up, so close to 1st BCS title shot

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State is so close. With two more wins, the Wildcats almost certainly will be headed to Miami for the BCS championship game and a shot at their first national title.

So imagine the excitement and euphoria for the Wildcats following their victory at TCU, which came after defending national champion Alabama lost at home.

"It's good for us,'' receiver Tramaine Thompson said matter-of-factly after the Wildcats won 23-10 on Saturday night. "We're doing something that's special and doesn't come around a lot in any program. We're just taking it in and we're just moving forward.''

OK, so coach Bill Snyder's message clearly permeates through this team. Don't worry about what any other team does, or what can happen in two months. Focus instead on what's immediately ahead.

"I am just going to ask my guys as I always do to try to get better at practice on Monday,'' Snyder said.

The Wildcats (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) will go to practice Monday as the No. 1 team in the BCS rankings that determine who plays for the national championship.

They replaced Alabama at the top when the new Bowl Championship Series standings were released Sunday night. They moved up one spot, staying ahead of No. 2 Oregon.

Kansas State also moved up a spot in the new AP Top 25 earlier Sunday, going from third to second. Oregon, which was already ahead of the Wildcats in the AP poll, was the new No. 1 there.

Alabama slipped three spots to fourth in both rankings.

"We don't pay too much (attention) to the rankings,'' defensive back Jarard Milo said. "Coach Snyder does a good job of stressing that's not something we control. We control our family and we control what we do out there on the field in practice.''

Kansas State plays next Saturday night at Baylor, where the Wildcats have lost their last two trips but now could clinch at least a share of its first Big 12 title since 2003. They get Thanksgiving week off before ending the regular season at home Dec. 1 against 18th-ranked Texas.

The last time the Wildcats were this close to a possible national championship was 1998, when they went 11-0 in the regular season before being upset by Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship game. The league no longer has a title game.

Maybe the Aggies have finally provided some payback, and helped their old league.

Texas A&M, now in the SEC, won 29-24 Saturday at Alabama. That game ended only minutes after K-State kicked off at TCU (6-4, 3-4).

Snyder insisted he didn't know about the Crimson Tide's loss until being told after his team was done.

But TCU coach Gary Patterson, a Kansas State alumnus who started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Wildcats' first bowl team three decades ago, knew Alabama was losing before his team took the field.

"I was like, just what we needed, Kansas State to have another reason to come out fired up,'' Patterson said.

Heisman Trophy hopeful Collin Klein, back in the lineup a week after coming out early against Oklahoma State because of an apparent concussion, threw only his third interception of the season on the first drive of the game.

But Klein went on to run for two touchdowns and the Wildcats built a 23-0 lead against the Horned Frogs, a team full of freshmen and sophomores for the school's first Big 12 season and already bowl eligible.

"I'm not disappointed in our kids at all. We thought we could win this ballgame,'' Patterson said. "That's where we are right now, just a little bit short against teams like that.''

Kansas State had two turnovers after giving the ball away only once the previous six games, and scored its fewest points this season. Plus, the admittedly conservative Wildcats were outgained by TCU, 274 to 260.

That gives Snyder plenty of focal points going into a new week.

"He tells us every day to just focus on getting better,'' linebacker Jarell Childs said. "Obviously after this game, we have a lot of mistakes to correct and get better, so we go focus on that.''

 

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