By Ralph D. Russo/The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Surprising Kansas State climbed to No. 12 in The Associated Press college football poll Sunday, the Wildcats’ best ranking since 2004.
Kansas State improved to 6-0 on Saturday night with a 41-34 comeback victory at Texas Tech and jumped five spots in the new rankings. It was the fourth straight week coach Bill Snyder’s Wildcats won as underdogs.
The last time Kansas State was ranked this highly was the 2004 preseason poll, when the Wildcats were No. 12.
The top 10 teams in the rankings remained the same after a weekend filled with blowouts. No. 1 LSU received 41 first-place votes, No. 2 Alabama had 11 and No. 3 Oklahoma got six.
The rest of the top 10 was Wisconsin, Boise State (one first-place vote), Oklahoma State, Stanford, Clemson, Oregon and Arkansas.
The top five in the USA Today coaches’ poll was Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama, Wisconsin and Stanford. The Harris poll had the same top 10 as the AP poll. Those two polls are part of the BCS standings formula. The first standings were due out Sunday night.
Kansas State went 7-6 last season and was picked eighth out of 10 in the Big 12’s preseason poll. But behind a much improved defense and a solid running game led by quarterback Collin Klein, the Wildcats are perfect after six games for the first time since 2000.
Snyder is in his third season since coming out of retirement to return to the job he held for 17 years.
The Wildcats’ resurgence this season is impressive, but when it comes turnarounds, the 72-year-old Snyder has done much better in Manhattan, Kan.
He first took over the program in 1989 and it wasn’t a stretch to call Kansas State the worst program in major college football.
From 1938-1988, K-State won 130 games. Snyder was hired during 27-game winless streak.
But from 1993-2003, Snyder led the Wildcats to a bowl every season, averaged 10 wins and contended for national championships.
He stepped down after the 2005 season, but after three lackluster seasons under Ron Prince, he returned and has the Wildcats, who play in-state rival Kansas on Saturday, contending for a conference title again.
Just ahead of Kansas State at No. 11 in the latest rankings was West Virginia.
No. 13 Nebraska was next, followed by South Carolina and Michigan State, which hosts Wisconsin on Saturday.
The rest of the top 20 had Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Michigan, Auburn and Georgia Tech, which dropped eight spots to No. 20 after its first loss.
The 17th-ranked Wolverines fell seven spots after losing for the first time this season, 28-14 to Michigan State.
The final five were undefeated Houston at No. 21, Washington, Illinois, another first-time loser on Saturday, and Arizona State and Georgia tied for No. 24.
Washington is ranked for the first time since 2009, when it was No. 24 for one week. Georgia returned to the rankings after being knocked out after Week 2 of the season.
Texas and Baylor dropped out of the rankings after losing Big 12 games.