The Big Bowl is no longer possible for Kansas State. A Heisman Trophy for Collin Klein seems unlikely.
But the Big 12 championship remains a special carrot for the Wildcats.
Not counting four Kansas Collegiate Conference titles won before World War I, K-State has two league championships to its credit: 1934 and 2003.
Beat Texas on Saturday night, and K-State is the Big 12 champ. Even if OU beats TCU and forges a tie atop the standings, the Wildcats will be the recognized champs, by virtue of their September win in Norman.
But beating Texas might not be easy. K-State's offense has lost its steam since Klein suffered a concussion in the second half against Oklahoma State on Nov. 3.
Klein went to the bench that night in Manhattan with 29 touchdowns rushing or passing and just three turnovers. In the two games since, KSU is 1-1 and Klein has four TDs and four turnovers.
K-State coach Bill Snyder said Klein's play hasn't declined. “Maybe the numbers have not been as prolific as they have been, but Collin has really played well,” Snyder said.
To beat KSU, Texas must keep Klein's numbers down. More turnovers would help, especially since UT's offense will be suspect. The Longhorns struggled on Thanksgiving night against TCU, and now Case McCoy will quarterback in place of the injured David Ash.
Texas coach Mack Brown intended to compliment Klein but perhaps revealed a clue about K-State's plight.
“Sure, he gets beaten down some at the end of the year,” Mack said, “but the quarterback gets all the credit when you win, and he gets all the criticism when you lose.”
Is Klein beaten down after two full seasons as a battering-ram QB? That's perhaps OU's best hope of keeping Kansas State from just its third conference title ever.