Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder always seems to have his football teams in a position to win on Saturday, whether they have the talent to match the team on the opposite sideline or not.
Efficiency is the name of the game for the Wildcats, and they proved again in the first half against Miami that they have that phase of the game down pat. QB Collin Klein was 6-of-7 from the air for 98 yards. Running back John Hubert rushed for 60 yards on just 11 carries.
Third down was also great for the Wildcats in the first half, when they went 5-of-7 and kept drives going to keep the defense off the field.
Klein did it on the ground himself, too, picking up his third touchdown on the ground midway through the third quarter while pushing the lead over the Hurricanes to 31-6.
Not only is the offense a hallmark of doing more with less, but the defense is also bending but not breaking early in the season. With Snyder's ball control offense, they don't have to worry about being on the field as much as pass-happy attacks, which is likely both a strength and weakness of the team.
Not many people remember that Kansas State finished the regular season as the No. 8 team in the nation in 2011. Their impressive season included wins over Baylor and Missouri, and close losses on the road in Stillwater and the Cotton Bowl to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The key to pushing the buttons and forcing voters to put them into the top 10 will be the play of Klein. The dual-threat quarterback reminds some of Tim Tebow, but this offense isn't nearly as dynamic or about stretching the field like Florida was in Tebow's heyday.
However, that doesn't mean Klein isn't important to his ballclub's success. Apart from big names like Matt Barkley and Geno Smith, there might not be a more singularly important piece on one team than Klein is for Kansas State.
Where will Kansas State finish in 2012?
As long as he is healthy and producing the way he did in 2011 and early in the win over Miami, then Klein and the rest of the Wildcats are poised for a big 2012.
Road games at No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 9 West Virginia are no doubt going to be the pivotal games in their quest towards the top. But with the way Oklahoma looked against UTEP and voters giving more clout to teams who play close on the road, it's not hard to see Kansas State hovering in the teens, even if they were to drop both games in Norman and Morgantown.
Their other two big games, Texas and Oklahoma State, are at home, where Coach Snyder undoubtedly has an advantage in the stadium that bears his name.
Bottom line, No. 21 is going to end up being too low for the Wildcats in the coming weeks. The play of Klein, the underrated Hubert and some extremely shifty receivers make Kansas State a sleeper pick to receive another highly sought-after bowl game, with an outside shot at a BCS at-large berth.