FORT WORTH, Texas – TCU's Gary Patterson started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Kansas State's first bowl team.
Now he's seen up-close how good his alma mater has become three decades later.
Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Collin Klein ran for two touchdowns and third-ranked Kansas State bolstered its chances in the national championship chase with a 23-10 victory over the Horned Frogs on Saturday night.
"There is a very fine line, and that is a team that can play for a national championship," Patterson said after facing the Wildcats for the first time. "Everyone has been giving them their best shot. I am not sure that was our best shot, but we tried to play at a high level."
Even with 28 freshmen playing, the Horned Frogs (6-4, 3-4 Big 12) are already bowl eligible in their first Big 12 season.
Kansas State is likely two wins away from playing for its first national title.
Only a few minutes after No. 1 Alabama had lost, Klein threw a 62-yard pass to set up his first touchdown run.
On Sunday, Kansas State (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) will likely take over the top spot in the new BCS rankings.
"I have no thoughts about it whatsoever," said coach Bill Snyder, who claimed he didn't even know about Alabama's loss until getting in the locker room after the game.
"I just found out. My reaction was, 'Wow!'" said Anthony Cantele, who kicked three field goals. "It doesn't change what we're going to do. ... We'll enjoy it for what it is, and get back to work."
Kansas State's game had just started and Klein already had a rare turnover when SEC newcomer and former Big 12 team Texas A&M finished off its 29-24 victory at Alabama, the top team in the BCS standings and AP poll.
The Wildcats, 10-0 for only the second time under Snyder, were already No. 2 in the BCS standings, one spot ahead of Oregon.
The Wildcats play next Saturday night at Baylor, then have a week off before ending the regular season at home against 19th-ranked Texas.
"If they were going to win, now I want them to win out. ... The team deserves it, but the man (Snyder) deserves it. He's done a lot for not only Kansas State but the state of Kansas period," Patterson said. "I'm proud to be a Wildcat, but I'm a Horned Frog. Kansas State is like a distant relative. I like them, but this is my family right here."
Patterson, TCU's winningest coach with 115 wins in 12 seasons, started his coaching career as a K-State graduate assistant in 1982, long before Snyder got there. The Kansas native played there the previous two seasons, as a safety and linebacker who played a lot on scout teams and a little on special teams.
Klein's third interception of the season came on only the fourth play against TCU. Freshman defensive end Devonte Fields was back in coverage when he made a diving grab for his first career pick.
The Horned Frogs failed to take advantage by going three-and-out.
By time they got the ball back, they were trailing for good and on way to their third consecutive home loss, all to Big 12 teams. It is the first time since 1997 they have lost three home games in a row in the same season.
It was during the timeout for the change of possession after TCU's punt that Alabama's game ended.
Right after that, Klein threw a 62-yard pass and then had a 7-yard TD run.
When TCU punted again, Tremaine Thompson had a 33-yard punt return to the Frogs 41. The first of Cantele's three field goals, a 41-yarder, made it 10-0.
Klein showed no ill effects from an apparent head injury that had knocked him out in the third quarter of last Saturday's victory against Oklahoma State.
But outside of the long pass and two TD runs, including a nifty 34-yarder in the third quarter that gave him 19 for the season, it wasn't Klein's best game statistically.
The senior quarterback was sacked a season-high three times while completing 12 of 21 passes for 145 yards. He had 15 carries for 50 yards.
Klein wasn't made available for interviews after the game.
Kansas State was the highest-ranked team to play in Fort Worth since 1970, when No. 2 Texas beat the Horned Frogs 58-0.
TCU, which has scored in 252 consecutive games over the last 21 years, didn't score until against the Wildcats until Jaden Oberkrom's 35-yard field goal with 6:59 left. Oberkrom was wide right on a 45-yard attempt at the start of the second quarter.
Trevone Boykin threw a 19-yard TD to Brandon Carter with 47 seconds left in the game.
Kansas State led 13-0 after Cantele made a 20-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the first half. That came after Deante Gray tried to field a punt that sailed over his head, and it was recovered at the Frogs 5.