Is Kansas State for real?

By knocking off OU, Collin Klein and the Wildcats showed they are legit Big 12 title contenders. Matthew Emmons/US Presswire

Coming into the 2012 college football season, the Kansas State Wildcats were not receiving very much respect.

It wasn't that easy to figure out why, either. The Wildcats were returning 18 starters (including special teams) from a team that finished second in the Big 12, won 10 games and earned a berth in the Cotton Bowl in 2011, and yet they were slotted sixth in the Big 12's preseason poll by a panel of media covering the conference. The surprise that last year's team was seemed to carry into 2012. The pollsters essentially said, "OK, now prove it."

Bill Snyder's group may not have received much respect, but that changed to some extent after Saturday's 24-19 upset against the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman; the win vaulted the Wildcats to No. 7 in this week's AP Top 25, which is the highest ranking of any Big 12 team.

Even with that ranking, there may still be doubters who lean toward their preseason assessment of Kansas State and believe that this program, which had finished better than .500 only two times in the six seasons preceding last year, is still a ways away from vying for conference supremacy. There are some who might say Saturday says more about what Oklahoma is not than what Kansas State is.

That might seem reasonable at first glance, but after taking a closer look at the game tape and metrics, it is clear that these Wildcats are not just a flash in the pan -- they are a legit top-10 team and true contenders for the Big 12 title.