MANHATTAN — Collin Klein is the most unlikely of Heisman Trophy front runners.
He is a quarterback who throws the ball like he's heaving a spear through a plate glass window.
He is a runner who looks more like a plow mule than a sprinter.
And get this, he is playing in Manhattan, Kan.
This is the place that was home to the worst program in college football for nearly a century. Lore from the woeful days include a tale of Kansas State players going door to door trying to sell tickets; they rarely got any takers.
Now, with K-State sitting No. 2 in the BCS standings and Oklahoma State coming to town, you'd be hard pressed to find any tickets.
This will be a prime-time matchup on ABC seen by the entire country.
Which brings us back to Klein.
Saturday night is one of his greatest opportunities to prove his Heisman worthiness. He'll be facing a team that handed his Wildcats one of only two regular-season losses a year ago, he'll be going against a defense that has grown fangs in recent weeks, and he'll be doing it for all the college football world to see.
The Cowboys could end the Wildcats' title talk and Heisman hopes.
Or Klein and the Cats could make another big statement.
He has already made plenty of believers. Track down any straw poll of Heisman voters, and you're sure to find Klein at the top. He's such a clear frontrunner at this point that the race is his to lose.
The past two weeks have solidified that.
In blowouts of West Virginia and Texas Tech, Klein accounted for 11 touchdowns. No other K-State quarterback has ever managed such a feat in a two-game stretch. And Klein did it against two ranked teams led by quarterbacks that were once thought of as Heisman contenders themselves.
Klein made it obvious in both games that if there was a Heisman winner on the field, it was him.
“He's a young guy that has invested himself in improving day in and day out,” Wildcat coach Bill Snyder said. “And it's showed up on the field.”
No matter what you like in your football stars, Klein fits the bill.
He is tough, so much so that K-State built its Heisman promotional campaign around that grit. The school sent out a mailer with Klein's stats and sealed it with a Band-Aid.
He has a great back story. Recruited by the Ron Prince regime, Klein was moved to receiver and special teams when Snyder returned to coach. Klein had to prove to the coach that he could actually play quarterback.
He is a devout Christian. He is a married man. He is a community champ, a humble dude, a model Wildcat.
But more important than anything in a Heisman race, he is a winner.
That's the reason no guy that played in Manhattan, Kan., has ever won the Heisman. No Wildcat has ever won like Klein.
Michael Bishop got invited to be part of the Heisman hoopla in 1998, but in his last game before the ceremony, K-State lost to Texas A&M in the Big 12 title game.
Bishop finished second.
If the Wildcats keep winning, Klein won't finish second. If the Wildcats keep winning, he will be impossible to beat. If the Wildcats keep winning, there'll be a Heisman in Manhattan, Kan.
Seems about as likely as one in Waco, Texas.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. You can also like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.