The pressure was on somebody — anybody — to fill some of the void created by Justin Blackmon's suspension.
A roll call of possibilities would have suggested several names before arriving at Bo Bowling. Yet there was Bowling on Saturday at Kansas State, raising his hand and announcing himself present, coming through with his biggest game as a Cowboy.
Not only were Bowling's eight catches and 92 yards both career highs, his receptions were big in nature on a day where scoring drives didn't come as consistently as the first seven games.
Of Bowling's catches, six went for first downs.
And he announced his presence immediately, when on his first reception, a third-down grab, Bowling caught a short pass, put on a move and added nine yards after the catch for a 14-yard gain.
"The players have to step up," said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, "other guys have to make plays."
Bowling, ironically making the most of his own second chance this season, was one of those guys, after entering with 12 receptions for 98 yards in the previous seven games.
Plenty to go around. Along with Bowling's big game, linebackers Orie Lemon and Shaun Lewis led a defensive charge that limited K-State's signature running game, and punter Quinn Sharp continually pinned the Wildcats deep in their own end.
Lemon came back from an early knee contusion to total a team-high 10 tackles in a show of toughness. Lewis, continuing to make a play for increased playing time, added eight stops, including two athletic plays to knife in and drop Wildcats running back Daniel Thomas.
When the Cowboys were struggling on offense early, Sharp made it difficult on the Wildcats, who are not built to go long distances against quality defenses.
Among his six punts, Sharp dropped boots at the 4-, 8-, 7- and 1-yard lines.
Junior free safety Johnny Thomas kept showing up at big moments.
Thomas posted six tackles, forced a fumble, broke up two passes and returned an interception for a fourth-quarter touchdown that all but clinched victory.