After all, the Wildcats were picked eighth in a preseason poll of conference media after allowing more rushing yards than any team in the nation last season.
Deficiencies still exist on defense, but Kansas State carries a 9-2 overall record and sits 11th in the Bowl Championship Series standings, so an outside chance exists to get into the BCS mix if the Wildcats close with a victory over Iowa State on Dec. 3.
"There's no team in this conference that we can overlook," said junior linebacker Arthur Brown, who has been instrumental in Kansas State's makeover on defense.
"Every team has the same opportunity week and week out if they prepare for it throughout the week, so we can't overlook anyone."
A case in point is Iowa State. The Cyclones became bowl-eligible by staging the biggest upset to date in the Big 12. They posted that double-overtime victory over previously unbeaten Oklahoma State on Nov. 18 and will be riding a big wave of confidence.
The two-week preparation period for Kansas State came at a good time because of bumps and bruises accumulated by several players, including Collin Klein. The junior quarterback was unable to practice leading into the last two games, which
The Wildcats have won six games they were picked to lose, including all but one victory during a 6-2 run through the Big 12.
While Brown helped the defense re-establish a little swagger by defending the rush much better, Klein has easily been the Wildcats' most valuable player.
Klein has assumed most of the workload, some of it quite punishing since he leads the nation's quarterbacks with 267 rushing attempts.
Any chance for Klein to recuperate is good. The Wildcats were given three days to spend with family over the Thanksgiving holiday before returning to practice on Nov. 27.
"There is nothing we can do except make sure that we take care of business," Klein said. "That is all that we can do, to do our part. Again, it is just that whole mentality of making sure that we just keep getting better.
"We still have some things to correct, we are still growing and we just have to keep up.