Kansas State has been ranked in each of the past three seasons, and in four of five. But in each of those seasons, the Wildcats have been short-time visitors in the AP Top 25, ultimately finishing out of the rankings.
Now they hope last week's victory over sixth-ranked Oklahoma will give them the boost for sustained success.
Kansas State (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) arrived in the AP poll this week at No. 25 after defeating the Sooners on Saturday for the third time in four years, 41-34 in Norman, Okla.
Now the Wildcats will host Texas Tech (3-1, 1-0 Big 12), which is coming off a thrilling 37-34 overtime victory over Texas.
Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez threw for 234 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 148 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries. He was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.
"Without a doubt, this is No. 1," said Martinez, who transferred from Nebraska before the season. "It's still registering with me right now, just coming to that realization that it's real. We played to the best of our abilities, and we took it to them. It's without a doubt my favorite game of all time."
Oklahoma is 28-2 at home since mid-2017, with both losses coming to K-State. The Wildcats are 4-2 in Norman dating to 2012 and a stunning 6-5 back to their last Big Eight Conference meeting in 1994.
The 41 points were the most Kansas State has ever scored in Norman. It was quite a turnaround after the Wildcats' lackluster effort in a 17-10 home loss to Tulane the week before.
"What a great effort for four quarters," Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said after the game. "We didn't have a letdown. We knew there were going to be some ups and downs, but we talked about putting the foot on the gas, and believing we were a better football team, and believing in each other."
In 2021, the Wildcats debuted in the polls in the fourth week with a 3-0 record, then lost their next three games. In 2020, they reached No. 16 with a 4-1 record and lost their last five games. In 2019, they made their first appearance once they got to 3-0, then lost their next two games; and again after beating Oklahoma they were ranked again -- only to fall out with successive losses.
The Red Raiders also are looking for a sustained rise. A week ago, they were coming off a 27-14 loss to NC State before turning in the outstanding performance against Texas.
Tech trailed Texas 31-17 late in the third quarter before rallying to tie the score at 31. When they capped their comeback with Trey Wolff's 45-yard field goal and an apparent 34-31 victory with 21 seconds remaining, their emotional fortitude was tested when Texas tied it on the final play of regulation.
But the Raiders forced a fumble by Bijan Robinson on the Longhorns' possession in overtime, and soon after, Wolff won it with a 20-yard field goal.
"I'm really proud of our guys," first-year Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire said. "It was 31-17, and they could have given up at any point. They didn't. We asked them, coming out of the half, to keep fighting and good things would happen. These guys believe. When you have results like this, it just fires that belief up even more.
"What this means to us is that we are 1-0 in the Big 12. I'm fired up to beat Texas, but I'm more fired up to be 1-0 in the Big 12. Our guys will enjoy this, but this is not the end. We are going to refocus after enjoying this for the next 24 hours. We'll build off this. We'll find out how we respond to success."
--Field Level Media