FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder swears he doesn't know what "style points" are in the game of football. That's good, because Snyder's second-ranked Wildcats scored few style points Saturday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium, but still cruised to a 23-10 victory over TCU.
"We didn't play a complete ballgame, but I don't think there was a lack of effort by the players," Snyder said. "We left a lot on the field in regards to a variety of different things, mainly execution."
TCU's defense flustered K-State quarterback Collin Klein, but it still didn't stop the leading Heisman Trophy candidate from running for K-State's two touchdowns as the Cats moved to 10-0, and 7-0 in Big 12 Conference action, on a night that propelled Snyder's program dramatically closer to playing for a national championship.
With Alabama losing to Texas A&M 29-24 just prior to kickoff in Fort Worth, all K-State needed to do was win to ascend to the top of the BCS standings when they are announced on Sunday.
That meant one thing: K-State didn't need style points, just victories, to get its job done.
"I have no thoughts on it, whatsoever," Snyder said of the Alabama loss. "I am just going to ask my guys as I always do, to try to get better at practice on Monday. Someone just told me about it in the locker room."
Prior to Alabama losing, Snyder was recently asked about adding to the score in games to impress voters, or style points, and Snyder insisted he neither knew what style points were, nor would he run up scores to impress voters.
Well, none of that happened against TCU, but the Wildcats were also never really threatened in the game, either. K-State opened a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and used solid defense and strong special teams to keep the game in hand.
"That is a team that can play for a national championship," TCU coach Gary Patterson said after his team fell to 6-4 on the year. "You have to give Coach Snyder and their group a lot of credit. Everyone has been giving them their best shots. I am not sure that was our best shot, but we tried to play at a high level."
TCU actually ended up out-gaining the conservative Wildcats offensively 274-260 as a late touchdown following an Angelo Pease fumble led to K-State giving up its first points off a turnover all season.
"TCU is a great team," K-State safety Jarard Milo said. "They did a good job of being able to run the ball and a good job of being able to throw the ball. … We knew this was going to be a big challenge, but we still aren't happy. We still have a lot of work to do."
K-State's defense collected six sacks on the night as it harassed and banged around TCU freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin, who briefly left the game with an arm injury. Meshak Williams collected two sacks in the game, and tied for team high in tackles with seven.
Offensively, K-State had its moments, but Klein & Company were pestered by TCU's defensive ends for most of the night. Klein finished with 50 yards rushing on 15 carries (those numbers include losing 20 yards on three sacks), and the senior QB completed just 12 of 21 passes for 145 yards.
"We had to try to find ways to move the ball, and it got to the point where we were conservative in order to get the game over with. The score dictated that," Snyder said.
After an uncharacteristic Klein interception on K-State's opening drive -- K-State's first offensive turnover in Big 12 play -- the Wildcats scored their lone first-half touchdown on their second possession of the game. The drive started at the KSU 11 and took just six plays to reach the end zone.
The first play of the drive was a 62-yard pass from Klein to Chris Harper to the TCU 27. Over the next five plays, Pease added a seven-yard run, and Klein tacked on runs of 13 and seven yards to get the Cats into the end zone.
"TCU's defense is a little bit different than everyone else's," Pease said. "They do a lot of shifting and motion that took us a little time to adjust to. … TCU is probably one of the most physical teams we've played all season. They are very good."
Up 7-0, K-State tacked on a field goal on its next drive that was set up by a 31-yard punt return from Tramaine Thompson. Anthony Cantele's 41-yard field goal put K-State up 10-0 with 2:59 to go in the first quarter.
After that, though, the TCU defense clamped down on the Wildcats. K-State picked up just 34 yards in the second half, but a muffed punt by Deante' Gray put K-State at the TCU 5.
The Frogs' defense bowed up and forced another Cantele field goal, which he nailed from 20 yards to give K-State a 13-0 lead it would take to halftime.
Klein broke free for a 34-yard touchdown with 8:21 on the third-quarter clock to put the Wildcats up 20-0. It was then that Snyder put his Wildcats on cruise control and passed on an opportunity to score some of those mysterious style points.
"They had a presence, and we have had those teams before when we were older," Patterson said of the Wildcats. "… You have to give Collin Klein and those guys a lot of credit. Especially on defense and in special teams, they did some good things."
Cantele added his third field goal, a 27-yarder, late in the third quarter to close K-State's scoring with a 23-0 lead. TCU scored its 10 points in the final seven minutes of the game.
K-State returns to Texas next Saturday for its final road game of the regular season when it takes on the Baylor Bears in Waco. The game is slated a for 7 p.m. kickoff and will be televised on ESPN.
A victory over Baylor will guarantee the Wildcats the Big 12 championship. (The Wildcats could still tie Oklahoma and win the conference because of owning the tie-breaker with OU.) That means K-State would play in no less than the Fiesta Bowl as conference champion, but it would remain on a path toward playing in the national championship game in Miami on Jan. 7.