Going undefeated and maintaining a perfect season brings new pressures every week for this Kansas State football team.
Every game is a big game, and while the Wildcats have relished the underdog role, being ranked No. 2 in the BCS hardly allows that school of thought to really hold water any longer.
Coming off a 44-30 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday, K-State (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) now turns its focus to a key road game this weekend at TCU as the Wildcats’ chase for perfection is down to just three games.
“Our coaches try to keep our focuses off of it and just keep us focused on getting better every week,” K-State linebacker Jarell Childs said Saturday. “So, that’s what we try to do.”
Saying it and doing it, though, are two very different things. After all, the Wildcats maintained their No. 2 ranking in the BCS standings Sunday night, behind only Alabama and ahead of Oregon and Notre Dame — four teams that have separated themselves from the rest of the pack and become legitimate title contenders.
“I mean, I’m sure everybody thinks about that, but we try not to make that a big deal,” Childs said. “We try not to think about it too much and throw ourselves out of they way. We just focus on our next opponent.”
Sophomore receiver Tyler Lockett said to do that, it is key to remember how the Wildcats got to this point, something no K-State program has experienced since the 1999 season when the Wildcats’ undefeated season was shattered with a blowout loss at Nebraska in Week 10.
“Things are going our way now,” Lockett said. “But we just have to continue to do what got us here, which was hard work. We don’t want to settle because we haven’t done anything yet — we haven’t proven anything.”
K-State coach Bill Snyder said his team has done well with the increased attention in recent weeks.
“The young guys have been able to hold up under that pressure,” Snyder said. “It increases once you get a little bit better, then all the noise becomes a little bit more enhanced.”
And with every passing week and every win that noise becomes louder and louder — even in small town Kansas.
“I don’t know truly what goes on in the mind of a young person,” Snyder said, “or an old person for that matter. I’m not a mind reader, but they seem to handle themselves in a way that I would be proud of — you’d be proud of.”