"We wanted to build a team starting on special teams and defense," Prince said. "This is the first time since we've been here where we've played this well in those two areas." Kansas State played late-1990s Wildcat football with a swarming, big-play defense, and those special, special plays from the special teams.
"It's not just collective talent that makes a good team, but a collective mentality and people working together," Prince said. "That helped us play our best today, and today it was good enough."
The result has No. 24 Kansas State in the national polls for the first time since the week of Sept. 11, 2004, when the Wildcats were No. 13, but lost to Fresno State, 45-21. And speaking of polls, Saturday's win over a No. 7 Texas team, in Austin, marked the first time in 47 tries that K-State won against a Top 10 team in a true road game.
The Big 12 North has its share of firepower this year with the likes of Missouri and Nebraska, but one-third the way through the total season, it's only Kansas State that looks to have the total offense-defense-special teams package.
While it's a long season, Kansas State already has a win in a locale where few teams will survive this year. And, it's Kansas State that is 1-0 with likely its toughest regular season game out of the way.
A year ago, K-State held a comfortable lead on Texas, only to have the Longhorns come back on the Wildcats.
Saturday, the Wildcats demonstrated a different personality. Leading 24-14 at the half, that margin was trimmed to 27-21 in the third quarter before KSU scored the game's final 17 points.
Or as quarterback Josh Freeman said, "We stepped on their throats."
After the game, UT running back Jamaal Charles said, "That team (KSU) was better than us today." And if Kansas State was a better team than Texas, it stands to reason it can certainly be better than any team in the North Division. On-field proof of that begins Saturday in an 11 a.m. kickoff at Bill snyder Family Stadium against 4-0 Kansas. It will mark the first time that the Wildcats will have played an unbeaten Jayhawk team since 1995 when No. 14 K-State hammered No. 6, and 7-0, Kansas, 41-7.
As Wildcat defensive back Justin McKinney said Saturday, "We think we can beat anybody right now."
Saturday was proof of that when the Wildcats truly did beat a somebody.