FORT WORTH -- The nation's No. 2 ranked Kansas State Wildcats answered upset alert calls with a convincing 23-10 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday night.
Senior quarterback and Heisman front runner Collin Klein led the Wildcats (10-0, 6-0 Big 12) with 145 yards passing and 50 yards on the ground a week after suffering a concussion against Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs (6-4, 3-4) did little to respond to Klein's attack despite forcing the Wildcats into five first-half punts.
"He played reasonably well," Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder said. "He made the plays he had to make in the ball game but we were probably a little conservative for him. We could have given him more chances than what we did, but he played reasonably well."
Snyder was slow to say the effort of his team was complete though and gave credit the TCU defense for the complacency of the overall performance.
"We didn't play a complete ball game," Snyder said. "But I don't think there was a lack of effort by the players. We left a lot on the field in regards to a variety of different things, mainly execution."
Complementing Klein, the Kansas State defense held the TCU offense scoreless until late in the fourth quarter. The Frogs were able to obtain just 279 total yards and turned the ball over two times.
With Alabama's loss to Texas A&M earlier in the day, Kansas State also finds itself on the inside track toward the BCS national championship game and likely the No. 1 position in the new BCS rankings set to release on Sunday. The position would be the first time that the Wildcats have been at the top of the BCS since its conception.
"I have no thoughts about it whatsoever," Snyder said, commenting that he had just heard about the loss in the locker room after the game. "I am just going to ask my guys, as I always do, to try to get better at practice on Monday."
Klein answered questions about his health after throwing an interception on Kansas State's opening drive. Klein found Chris Harper on the first play of its second drive for a 62-yard completion and then completed the drive five plays later on a seven-yard run for the opening score.
The Wildcats added a field goal to extend their lead to 10 late in the first quarter.
The TCU defense was able to keep the high-powered Kansas State offense in check throughout much of the second quarter but Horned Frog mistakes hindered TCU from putting points on the board. Deante' Gray fumbled the Wildcats punt to give KSU possession on the TCU 5-yard line. Following back-to-back plays for negative yards, the Wildcats kicked a field goal to bring the score to 13-0.
TCU's Brandon Carter returned the following kickoff for 38 yards to give the Frogs a chance to score before the end of the half with 28 seconds left. But after completing his first pass for eight yards, Boykins threw the next low into the ground and then had his third-down pass picked off with six seconds to go in the half.
Kansas State's Anthony Cantele could not convert on his third field goal of the half, missing from 48 yards away.
"We stopped them and forced them to kick three field goals," TCU head coach Gary Patterson said about his team's turnovers. "But you take those three turnovers and three field goals off the board and it's a completely different ball game. That last onside kick could have been much bigger and caused a much greater impact."
Klein opened up second-half scoring early in the third quarter. Following a TCU punt, Klein led the Wildcats down the field on eight plays and capped the drive with a 34-yard touchdown run untouched to the goal line. Klein was 2-3 on the drive, including a 15-yard pass on a third-and-long play in which he avoided two TCU tacklers to find Tyler Lockett down the field.
The Horned Frog defense held strong despite its offense failing to advance the ball. A muffed punt gave the Wildcats the ball on the TCU 18-yard line. Angelo Pease used back-to-back rushes of four yards to give the Cats third-and-two but Klein missed on an opportunity to score six. Kansas State settled for a Cantele 27-yard field goal.
TCU finally broke through and avoided being shut out for the first time since 1985. Jaden Oberkrom converted on a 35-yard field goal to get the Horned Frogs on the board. Boykin added another score for TCU in the final minute of the game, finding Brandon Carter for a 15-yard touchdown. The Horned Frogs failed to recover the onside kick and Klein kneeled the ball to seal the win.
"We played a good football team, especially on defense," Patterson said. "We needed to have more of a game plan at the end when we were making short passes trying to avoid the pass rush. We blew up plays at times and did the things we needed. But there are no moral victories."
The Horned Frogs have a bye week next week before facing the Texas Longhorns on Thanksgiving Day. Meanwhile, Kansas State travels to Waco, Texas, to face the Baylor Bears next Saturday.
NOTES: KSU quarterback Collin Klein started despite a concussion last week against Oklahoma State. ... TCU starting quarterback Trevone Boykin left the game after the first quarter with an arm injury. He returned midway through the second. ... TCU wide receiver Skye Dawson left the game after the first play of the second quarter with a back injury.