MANHATTAN — As news of their first-place standing in the Big 12 North spread throughout the locker room Saturday night, Kansas State football players couldn't help but think of the possibilities.
Some talked about going to a bowl game. Others dreamed of a Big 12 North title.
Neither was being discussed this time last week. But after a convincing win over Texas A&M and taking the top division spot at 2-1, the Wildcats appear to be contenders for both.
Coach Bill Snyder understands those possibilities better than anyone, but he had a harsh warning for his players.
"You better take care of what you're doing today if you want some of those positive things to take place at the end of the season," he said.
In the Big 12 North, that is good advice.
Every team in the division has at least one loss, and if not for Kansas and Nebraska suffering upset losses last week, the Wildcats would not be in first place.
Every game is up for grabs. The key, Snyder says, is to stay focused on the next game. For the Wildcats, that means thoroughly preparing for Saturday's game against Colorado instead of predicting how the rest of the year will go.
"I try to reel them back in," Snyder said, "(and) say these things are possibilities for you. Here's where you want to be. Here's what it's going to take. It starts with today."
Snyder has given that speech twice now. First, he broke it out after K-State defeated Iowa State at Arrowhead Stadium. But the Wildcats responded by losing big at Texas Tech the next week.
Sophomore safety Tysyn Hartman thinks Kansas State will respond differently. The Texas Tech loss taught him a lot.
"We're in the same position we were two weeks ago," Hartman said. "We're on top of the North. It's really up to us. I hope we learn from our mistakes and don't get complacent or content from being there and say we're where we need to be when obviously we weren't. We just need to keep pushing forward and getting better."
Still, staying in first place gives them added motivation.
"People will take it as a target on our back," senior wide receiver Brandon Banks said. "We've just got to stay in that position, take control and understand that in order to stay there you have to win more games."
Harold remains out — Snyder said Brandon Harold would not play against Colorado, though he didn't elaborate on Harold's injury.
The sophomore defensive end did not dress against Texas A&M. Snyder said Harold injured himself last week in practice and couldn't take the field.
Etc. _ Prizell Brown started his first game of his K-State career at defensive tackle against Texas A&M. The junior college transfer did well enough to be listed as the starter again on this week's depth chart.