Humbled by an early loss to Louisiana-Lafayette and a 66-14 beatdown by Texas Tech, Kansas State (5-3, 3-1) is alone atop the Big 12 North after impressive wins over Texas A&M and Colorado. The Wildcats forced four turnovers and held Colorado to 244 total yards for their first 3-1 start in the Big 12 since 2000, during coach Bill Snyder's first tenure.
Colorado (2-5, 1-2) looked nothing like the team that traded big plays with Kansas last week, scoring on its first drive and doing little else to lose its 10th-straight road game. The Buffaloes are 2-17 away from Boulder in coach Dan Hawkins' three-plus seasons.
Kansas State's running game has been a big part of its recent success. The Wildcats have been consistent on the ground all season, ranking third in the Big 12, and even better the past two games, getting 204 yards against Colorado after a 232-yard day against Texas A&M.
Defense, though, has been the biggest difference.
Since allowing more than 700 yards and seven touchdowns to Texas Tech, Kansas State has dominated the first half the past two weeks, leading Texas A&M and Colorado by a combined 58-6. The Wildcats have forced 10 turnovers and have had nine sacks the past two games after getting six the first six games.
The last time Kansas State faced Colorado, Tyler Hansen was the surprise starter at quarterback and confounded the Wildcats with his ability for improvisation in the Buffs' 14-13 win.
The Wildcats were ready for Hansen this time, chasing him all over the backfield on nearly every pass play and preventing him from running upfield after numerous escapes. Kansas State sacked Hansen four times and held him to 81 total yards.
Colorado's offense clicked early, moving 71 yards in 13 plays for Rodney Stewart's 2-yard touchdown run.
The Buffaloes floundered after that, managing just 59 more yards and turning it over three times before halftime.
The first turnover, a fumbled snap by Hansen, led to Josh Cherry's second field goal, from 27 yards. Jason Espinoza then muffed a punt, setting up a 5-yard touchdown run by Grant Gregory that put Kansas State up 20-6 at the half.
Cody Hawkins, brought in with 1:06 left in the second quarter, also had a pass intercepted by Lamur, who wrestled the ball away from Colorado tight end Riar Greet.
Hawkins replaced Hansen again in the third quarter and had another pass picked off by Lamur in the closing minutes.