Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- A bunch of Kansas State fans weren't buying Texas Tech's legitimacy as a national power before Saturday's game.
"We walked out and everybody was chanting 'Overrated, overrated' at us before the game," Tech running back Baron Batch said. "Maybe we are, but I honestly don't care what they think. Because we're just keeping winning ballgames."
Tech answered many of those critics with an impressive 58-28 victory over the Wildcats. In the process, the Red Raiders defended the program's highest national ranking in nearly 32 years with a strong outing that showed the team's strength on offense and defense.
The victory came in exactly the kind of trap game that had bedeviled Tech in recent seasons. At least once in the last four seasons, the Red Raiders lost on the road as a heavy favorite.
But that wasn't the case on Saturday as Tech extended its seven-game winning streak, the longest in the Big 12.
After allowing Kansas State to tie the game early in the second quarter because of another ill-advised fourth-down gamble inside their own 30, the Red Raiders put the game away with an impressive blitz. The Red Raiders ran off 24 straight points to finish the quarter and cruised from there.
"I think that's about as good as we've played as a team," Tech quarterback Graham Harrell said. "I felt like I had all day back there."
The defense was just as strong, limiting KSU to 296 yards for their third-straight outing allowing opponents less than 300 yards.
We still don't know much about this Tech team, which has won all of its games by at least 16 points, but still beaten five opponents with four combined victories over FBS teams after Saturday.
The schedule will get a little more difficult with games against Nebraska and a road trip to Texas A&M. But from there, a punishing stretch of games against ranked teams Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will determine if the Red Raiders have legitimate hopes for their first Big 12 South title.
Tech coach Mike Leach wasn't thinking that far, or even considering how good his team might be after its strong start -- only the fifth 5-0 start in school history.
"We're better than average," he said. "We'll go from there and see if we can get six."
Batch noticed that many of his team's hecklers were long gone by the time the Red Raiders finished and walked off the field. The silence he noticed from the remaining fans was the most satisfying aspect of the victory.
"I think it was good for us to make a statement," he said. "We still haven't made the one we want to do because there's another game coming up. But hopefully, this game answered a lot of questions people might have about our team. I think it was something good for us to build on."
Harrell was happy with the strong performance, but said he can't worry if it came with any style points when national pollsters consider where Tech may rank with other teams among the national elite.
"We can't worry about the rankings," Harrell said. "There are a lot of good teams out there and they can rank us any way they want to. All we need to worry about is to keep getting better because that's the only chance of getting to where we eventually want to be."