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Game Day

Ferentz on the Hot Seat

9/28/2012

FIRST DOWN:

And goal to go…

The running joke in Manhattan is that when Bill Snyder starts a sentence, Collin Klein can finish it.

Although lately, it’s become more of a passing joke.

Kansas State’s coach and quarterback are in total sync right now, one mind, as evident in the Wildcats’ stunning 24-19 victory at Oklahoma last weekend. It was the first time Sooners coach Bob Stoops had ever lost in Norman to another ranked team; he’d beaten the previous 14 challengers by an average of four touchdowns.

It was also something of a national coming-out party for Klein, the fifth-year senior whose bruising running style, devout Christian faith and off-field charity work evoke comparisons to former Florida star-turned-ESPN-poster-boy Tim Tebow. At 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds, Klein’s built a reputation as a fullback/tight end prospect playing quarterback, but he showed how far he’s come as a passer in the fourth quarter against the Sooners. The big Colorado native completed four of his last five throws for 72 yards — including a 12-yarder to wideout Tramaine Thompson on 3rd-and-11 to keep a critical drive alive.

“That’s why we want balance,” Snyder said recently. “So if they take away one thing, at least we’ve got a chance with something else.”

Speaking of something else, what about the Boilermakers? Big Ten pundits are getting hot and bothered over the 4-0 starts of Minnesota and Northwestern, but Purdue might be the real sleeper in the league’s conference championship chase. The Boilermakers (2-1), who host Marshall this weekend, put together a much better showing against Notre Dame (a 20-17 loss) and Eastern Michigan (a 54-16 win) than the more ballyhooed Michigan State Spartans did against the Irish (a 20-3 loss) and Eagles (a 23-7 win), respectively. If coach Danny Hope can keep his roster upright — injuries have leveled the Boilers in recent years — they could be 5-1 heading into Ohio State on Oct. 20.

THE BIG 8:

Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight …

TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT

1. Texas (3-0) / vs. Oklahoma State

2. Kansas State (4-0) / Idle (vs. Kansas, Oct. 6)

3. West Virginia (3-0) / vs. Baylor

6. TCU (3-0) / vs. SMU

4. Oklahoma (2-1) / Idle (vs. Texas Tech, Oct. 6)

5. Oklahoma State (2-1) / vs. Texas

7. Michigan State (3-1) / vs. Ohio State

8. Ohio State (4-0) / vs. Michigan State

ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT:

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Three more touchdowns and 338 more yards vs. Maryland. And that was on a bad day.

2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Before last Saturday’s win at Oklahoma, Wildcats had won just three times in Norman since 1946. Think about that: Three.

3. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State: Let’s see: 380 passing yards and 102 more rushing against Clemson? Yeah, that’ll work.

SET YOUR TIVO:

The games you won’t want to miss…

1. Baylor at West Virginia, FX, 11 a.m.: The first-ever Big 12 game for the Mountaineers is also the first time they’ve ever played the Bears.

2. Ohio State at Michigan State, ABC, 2:30 p.m.: A chance to watch the best two teams in a watered-down Big Ten — sorry, Cornhuskers — lock horns. Pity we won’t get a rematch in Indianapolis, as the Buckeyes are ineligible to play in the league’s championship game.

3. Texas at Oklahoma State, FOX, 6:50 p.m.: Bevo’s seeking some payback — Gundy’s Pokes are on a two-game winning streak in the series and have averaged 35.5 points over the last two meetings.

THIS WEEK’S COACH ON THE HOT SEAT: KIRK FERENTZ, IOWA

Central Michigan? Really? Fans are justifiably wondering why a coach who reportedly rakes in $3.86 million annually can’t teach his kids to fall on an onside kick when it lands right in front of them. CV

Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.

Jokers