Kansas State is back in the polls! Fresh from a 36-35 heart-stopper over Baylor on Saturday, the 4-0 Wildcats are ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches poll. It's the first time the Wildcats have been listed among the nation's elite since 2007.
Coach Bill Snyder will celebrate by, "… we'll keep rowing the boat. What are our options. We'll do Sunday what we did last Sunday, and we'll do Monday what we did last Monday, and the Monday before that. Consistency is one of those values that we talk about."
What this K-State team has developed is a consistency to pull out victories.
For the year, K-State is 4-0 and has out-scored opponents 27-7 in the final quarter.
Three of the wins have some in come-from-behind efforts in the final period by a total of eight points - three, four and one.
• Eastern Kentucky: K-State scored the winning points with 1:30 remaining in a 10-7 victory. All 10 points came in the fourth quarter
• Miami: K-State took the lead with 10:00 left and then the defense do the rest, which included a goal-line stand when the Hurricanes had the ball 1st and goal at the 2-yard line.
• Baylor: The Wildcats scored the last 10 points in the final 5:22, and then Arthur Brown scored an interception down the stretch.
On winning late, defensive back David Garrett said, "Our confidence is very high, but we have to keep doing it week after week. These games are fun, but probably not the right way to win them."
It's a bit generic, but yet fitting to call this 2011 Kansas State football team the "Cardiac `Cats."
That defense that was so maligned a year ago has now found a way to win games down the stretch for the second straight week against significant programs in Miami and Baylor.
Saying he was "so proud" of his players and coaches, coach Bill Snyder said of the win, "To be able to do this week in and week out shows that we keep playing. We keep rowing the boat; we keep sawing wood. It's all those adages that are factual, and true.
"The bottom line is a bunch of goals all about values that we have, which is what it's been about all year. It's about never giving up, discipline to do the right things, hard work - all those things we teach our kids and our children make a difference. It's hard to get them to buy into them, but it's what makes a difference."
Saturday, it was Arthur Brown who made a difference down the stretch with a pivotal interception, plus a tackle on the final Baylor drive of the game.
On Brown's heroics down the stretch, Snyder said, "He plays inspired football. The real value of Arthur is he has that nose for the football. He can find it and go get it. When he knows where he's going and how to get there, he can pull the trigger as fast as anyone. Now there are a lot of guys faster than Arthur Brown on the clock, but he plays fast because he knows how and when to pull the trigger."
The victory was K-State's first over a ranked team since a 41-21 pasting at No. 7 Texas in 2007, and the first at Bill Snyder Family Stadium since a 45-42 victory over the No. 4 Longhorns in 2006. It was also the first ranked opponent a Bill Snyder-led team has defeated since a 58-7, Nov. 9, 2002 win against No. 21 Iowa State.
Of the consecutive thrillers, fullback Braden Wilson said, "It's shown us that we can finish games. We're playing with so much confidence."
John Hubert added of the team victories that have the Wildcats at 4-0, "It's about dedication and toughness. Coach talks to us about being tough, and we want to show him that we are and can win even in crunch time situations."
After a shaky mid-portion of the game, Collin Klein ended up accounting for 259 yards - 146 passing and 113 rushing - and three touchdowns - two passing and one rushing.
"He demonstrated amazing toughness and an ability to stay focused and not get rattled," said Snyder of his quarterback. "He's a quality leader on the field and keeps his composure. When he does that, his teammates do exactly the same thing."