It wasn’t all that long ago that Kansas State found itself trying to explain away its 35-21 dud against North Texas, just a week after trouncing Miami and a week before its road trip to Oklahoma.
Now the Wildcats are in similar position, coming off a 56-16 blowout victory against in-state rival Kansas and getting ready to go back on the road to Iowa State. Then there’s that other game at No. 5 West Virginia looming in the not-too-distant future next week.
The sixth-ranked Wildcats are hoping to avoid another near-letdown this Saturday as they travel to Ames for the first time since the 2007 season to face an Iowa State team fresh off a 37-23 win at TCU last weekend.
“I don’t think we will (overlook Iowa State),” K-State tight end Travis Tannahill said Tuesday. “We know what Iowa State is going to bring to the table. We know they’re going to be a tough, physical team.
“Anyone in this conference… as you saw, we didn’t play well in the first half against KU and they were right there. Anyone in this conference, you’re going to have to play a good game to win. If you come out flat, you’re not going to win.”
Quarterback Collin Klein said the goal for the Wildcats is to stay in the moment — despite K-State’s profile rising with every win and the anticipation for next week’s big game.
“We can’t look too far behind and where we’ve come or too far down the road and where we’re going,” he said. “We have to handle today and go from there.”
Klein appreciates the national attention, but also knows how far K-State has come in the last four years.
“There are a lot of us still around who remember when that wasn’t the case, but if we don’t take care of business it won’t matter,” said Klein, who is listed as the No. 2 Heisman Trophy candidate according to CBSsports.com.
At 5-0, K-State is one of only three teams to start each of the last two seasons with five straight wins. It’s from that success a year ago — finishing 10-3 with a Cotton Bowl appearance — that Nigel Malone said laid the foundation to what the Wildcats are trying to do this season.
“Last year gave us confidence in learning how to deal with the ups and downs of a season,” he said. “North Texas wasn’t our best game, but going through what we went through last year — losing back-to-back to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and then coming back the next weekend and having a better game against Texas A&M — taught us how to deal with the ups and downs. We learned not to get too down and not getting too high and we’ve carried that attitude over this season.”
Iowa State enters Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff on FX with some things to deal with, too. The Cyclones are learning how to handle some early success this season at 4-1 overall and now ranked 25th in the Coaches’ Poll after their big win at No. 13 TCU. Their only loss was at home to Texas Tech, 24-13, on Sept. 29.
Then again, it was just last season that Iowa State shocked No. 2 Oklahoma State in Ames in Week 11. So, winning the big game is nothing new to the Cyclones.
“That’s life in the Big 12 and our guys understand that,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said Monday. “I don’t think there is any problem with them coming back down or this victory lingering — just like the loss didn’t linger.
“We quickly moved ahead to what needed to be done in preparation, because if you don’t, the fifth-ranked team in the country is going to run you out of your own stadium.”