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Chris Klieman wants Wildcats to ‘stay humble’ as they shift focus to Jayhawks

Chris Klieman spent his Saturday night doing the same thing as most Kansas State football fans. He celebrated the Wildcats’ unexpected 48-41 victory over Oklahoma until the moment his head hit the pillow.

But the party was over when he woke up the following day.

“To be honest with you, we came, met as a staff and went right to work on KU,” Klieman said. “That’s the thing that’s great about this profession: You can be on top of the world in one week, and you can get knocked off quickly. You better stay humble, move on and get ready for the next opponent.”

Klieman has urged K-State players to stay level-headed and to take a one-game-at-a-time approach all season. That isn’t changing now.

The next opponent on the schedule certainly demands K-State’s attention. The Wildcats will next play the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium in a Sunflower Showdown game that suddenly has extra meaning.

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For the first time in more than a decade, there is some genuine buzz surrounding a KU/K-State football game.

Both teams are coming off huge wins. KU knocked off Texas Tech over the weekend and its offense has fired on all cylinders since Les Miles switched coordinators to Brent Dearmon.

“It’s a terrific football team playing at a high level, playing with a lot of confidence,” Klieman said of KU. “I’m really impressed with the quarterback and the skill players. They are all playing at a high level, and more importantly being on the same page. That’s the thing you can tell. They’ve played a lot of football together. They’re in sync with each other. On defense I think they’re playing really fast, I think they fly to the football. They have really talented players on that side. We have to come up with great plans. It’s going to be a four-quarter, great game.”

This will also be the first meeting between Klieman and Miles.

“I know it’s a big rivalry, but it’s the next game for us, as well,” Klieman said. “We need to continue to prepare Monday through Friday like we have in order for us to be successful on Saturday. I’m going to learn a lot about the rivalry, just as I’m sure Coach Miles is, from the players. We know it means a ton to the guys. That will be addressed throughout the week. But we can’t get ahead of our ourselves. We have to put the work in on a daily basis to give us a chance.”

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Still, Klieman allowed himself to reflect a bit on the Oklahoma win while he speaking on the Big 12 teleconference Monday.

It was, without a doubt, his biggest win with the Wildcats. He guided K-State to its first victory over a top-five team since 2006. National experts took notice. The team is ranked No. 22 in the AP poll. It certainly appears as though the Wildcats are heading in the right direction.

“I’m happy for the seniors first and foremost,” Klieman said. “Happy for those guys who stuck it out all four or five years to have a win like that at home. Just thrilled for those guys with the new stuff that they’ve bought in to some of the new things we are doing here. Just most importantly happy for those seniors.”

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This story was originally published October 31, 2019 8:00 AM.

Kellis Robinett covers Kansas State athletics for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. A winner of more than a dozen national writing awards, he lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.

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