Collin Klein and the Kansas State Wildcats left no doubt that they're here to stay Saturday night, dominating the West Virginia Mountaineers 55-14.
Entering Saturday night's game, Geno Smith was still widely considered the Heisman Trophy front-runner. Well, folks, if you haven't already flipped your mental ballot, do so now. With seven total touchdowns on the night, Klein made himself the clear-cut favorite.
Calling the Wildcats' performance dominant is actually an understatement. Taking one of the nation's top offenses and holding them to 235 total yards is just downright scary. Kansas State brought it from all angles, allowing Klein and the offense to control the pace of the game.
Pace, against West Virginia, is what it's all about. The Wildcats dominated the time of possession, keeping Smith out of rhythm. With Smith on the sideline, Klein was able to run Bill Snyder's blue-collar offense to perfection.
Aside from Tavon Austin's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, nothing went right for the Mountaineers.
They fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter, eventually watching that deficit balloon to 31-7 at halftime. By that time, Klein had already accounted for three rushing scores and one passing touchdown.
Klein then ripped off two more passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in the third quarter, putting the score at 52-7 in favor of the Wildcats.
The Mountaineers' offense finally got on the board when Smith hit Austin for a five-yard score with 7:31 remaining in the game.
At this point, most people were trying to find another game to watch. Watching Kansas State hammer the ball down West Virginia's throat every time they touched it became almost unbearable, but it was also hard to turn away.
Kansas State plays Texas Tech next week, while the Mountaineers get a much-needed bye.
Check out this tidbit from ESPN College Football concerning the differences at halftime:
How about the irony surrounding Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown? Here's what ESPN reporter David Ubben had to say:
Welp, Arthur Brown did it again. The first man to pick off RG3 last year. Does the honors for Geno Smith this year.— David Ubben (@davidubben) October 21, 2012
Here's what TribLIVE radio host Daniel Dudley had to say Saturday:
Yeah, it was that bad.
FOX Sports columnist Jason Whitlock gave Klein and Snyder some very high praise:
Bill Snyder coach of the year. Collin Klein Heisman Trophy. There has never been a better football coach than Bill Snyder.— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) October 21, 2012
KOCO-TV anchor Carson Cunningham had this to say late in the game:
#KState has a case to be ranked No. 1. Who has more impressive wins than the Wildcats?— Carson Cunningham (@CarsonC5) October 21, 2012
What do you think? Wins including Miami (FL), Oklahoma, Iowa State and now West Virginia are looking pretty good.
Collin Klein: A+
If there was a better grade than A+, he'd get that. It's not just about the numbers for Klein; he's a joy to watch. An old-school demeanor running an old-school offense is refreshing, especially when the attack is lighting up the scoreboard.
Seven total touchdowns, no matter who is playing defense, is astounding. He finished 19-of-21 for 323 yards and three touchdowns through the air, adding 41 rushing yards and four touchdowns to go with it.
Tyler Lockett: A
Lockett was Klein's main target Saturday, hauling in nine catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns on the night. He's not a household name, but this speedster shined on a huge stage Saturday night.
Bill Snyder: A+
Normally I'd grade another player here, but Snyder is more important to his team's success than any other coach in the nation. His leadership on the sidelines is inspiring, and he gets the most out of every single player on the roster.
When it comes to maximizing potential, you're not going to find anyone better. His teams come to play when it matters most, and Snyder is a major reason for that.
Geno Smith: D
Smith didn't just under-perform statistically, it was his attitude as well. Looking on the Mountaineers sidelines, you would find Smith hanging his head. For a senior, he didn't show any leadership.
Blowout loss or not, fans should expect more from their star signal-caller. He went 21-of-32 for 143 yards, one touchdown and two picks on the night.
West Virginia Defense: F
I don't think F- grades exist, but it should for this one. West Virginia's defense has been bad all season, and everyone saw how bad it can be Saturday evening.
Allowing 479 total yards is bad, but letting most of it come from one player is worse. This unit got beaten, showing no pride in the process.
Player of the Game: Collin Klein, QB
There's not much more to say about Klein, but it wouldn't feel right not giving him this. The dual-threat quarterback has an unheralded style of play, but there's no reason to overlook this guy any longer.
Finishing the night with 364 total yards and seven touchdowns officially lands him atop the Heisman rankings, and he did it in an extremely hostile environment.
This guy epitomizes Snyder's brand of football. He doesn't do anything flashy, but he doesn't take no for an answer. By sheer willpower, Klein pushes the Wildcats down the field.
No one will mistake Klein for the nation's most polished passer, but his numbers do not lie.