Originally written October 28, 2012 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- After he was done stomping, Chris Harper got busy stumping. "Because they play that fast offense and everybody sees the helmets going past really fast, everyone thinks they're faster than what they are," the Kansas State's senior receiver said Saturday when asked about the Oregon Ducks, his former program and -- here's a twist -- one of the Wildcats' key competitors for a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game. "I mean, they have guys that can run. But I was there. And I've seen the guys. "Like with LaMichael (James) and those guys, they wouldn't have been the fastest player on this team. You know, maybe the guy -- what's the guy's name? No. 6 (De'Anthony Thomas). I don't know. He's fast. But I mean, our fastest player is faster than their fastest player." And here you thought, after Nov. 6, the politicking was over. Brother, it's only just begun. With Halloween looming, we're officially into the pageant portion of the championship chase, when the "how" starts to matter as much as the "who." It's when routs become relative, when every weekend threatens to turn a season on its head. On this Saturday night, Alabama, the BCS No. 1, trounced No. 11 Mississippi State. Meanwhile, Florida the BCS No. 2, lost in Jacksonville to No. 10 Georgia. Which means there's a window. An opening. A seam. The fourth-ranked Ducks, 8-0, stomped The Shambles That Used To Be Colorado, 70-14. The third-ranked Wildcats, also 8-0, rolled No. 14 Texas Tech 55-24. Discuss. "We might be the odd team out, you know?" said Harper, who racked up 99 receiving yards on five catches. "I don't think people want us to play in the (title) game. So we could be (left out). So we've got to go out there and play like we did (Saturday), and put up scores like that, so we can't leave (any) doubt, so they can't leave us out of it. So we've just got to go out there and play like that every week." Computers, objective, soulless killing machines that they are, nonetheless seem to love Kansas State at the moment. On sheer resume, of course, the affection is deserved: The Cats won at No. 8 Oklahoma, then went out and crushed the No. 19 team (West Virginia) and the No. 14 squad (Tech) over the past two weeks by an average score of 55-19. Colorado, Oregon's latest dance partner, lost to Sacramento State. At home. By two. Look, we kid because we care. Also, because this BCS stuff has become a sensitive subject around Manhattan these days. Last weekend, the Ducks were ranked second by the Harris Poll and the coaches' poll, the two human "components" of the rankings, while the Wildcats sat fourth in both. And then there was a little piece late last week in the Miami Herald with the headline, "Please, no Kansas State in title game." "While an Alabama-Kansas State matchup in Miami has all the excitement of a self-induced dry heave, Alabama-Notre Dame would feel like a Super Bowl," the Herald's Joseph Goodman opined. "Even Oregon State-Florida would be welcomed. Anything but any combination of teams involving Kansas State." Clearly, the folks back at Dry Heave U were not amused. "Yeah, you know, we've just got to stay off of there," K-State lineman Cody Whitehair said of social media and all the sordid temptations therein. "That's kind of our trap zone, you know, so we try to just stay off of there." Aside from that, though, things in The Little Apple seem perfectly swell right about now. Quarterback Collin Klein kept pole position on the Heisman Trophy race with another mix of power and efficiency (19-of-26 passing, four touchdowns total); the Wildcats' offense opened the second half with six straight touchdown drives; and the defense limited Tech quarterback Seth Doege, who'd averaged four touchdown passes per game coming in, to just two scores, one in garbage time, while sacking him twice. Consider this: Oklahoma, West Virginia and Tech all went into the weekend at a clip of more than 40 points per contest, yet the three managed just 19 points, on average, against K-State. A one-trick pony, this horse ain't. And yet... "I wouldn't say we're complete yet," center BJ Finney countered. Wait. Really? "We still have a lot of things we have to work on," he replied. "There are a lot of great teams out there. Anybody can be beat on any given day. The (ranking) is just a number. Right now, it doesn't matter. We can't pay attention to it. It's not like us to pay attention to it. It's not like us to pay attention to that stuff. We've got to be humble and remember what got us here and keep working hard every day and improving every day." A little humility goes a long way. Of course, a USC win over Oregon would go a lot further. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
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