MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Kansas State (No. 12 CFP, No. 11 AP) gave itself a few minutes in the locker room Saturday to celebrate.
The players celebrated a victory over rival Kansas, and a senior class that helped to restore the program to national prominence. They celebrated a magnificent performance by quarterback Jake Waters and a record-setting career by wide receiver Tyler Lockett.
Then, they all turned their thoughts to what lays ahead.
The Wildcats' 51-13 romp over the Jayhawks set up a showdown at fifth-ranked Baylor next weekend. The winner will earn no worse than a tie for the Big 12 title, and could take the championship outright depending on what happens between TCU and Iowa State.
"We have a chance to win a championship now," said Waters, who threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters against the Jayhawks. "That gives me chills."
Kansas State (9-2), locked in a three-way tie with the Horned Frogs and Bears at 7-1 in the conference, also has a bit of payback on its mind. The Wildcats were unbeaten when they went to Baylor two years ago and lost in lopsided fashion. If they would've won, then beaten Texas the following week, they likely would have played for the national title.
"That's always on our mind," Lockett said. "Baylor ruined our plans."
Lockett turned in a masterful game on Senior Night, catching nine passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns Saturday. Along the way, he passed his father Kevin Lockett for the school record in career catches (222) and matched his mark with 26 touchdown grabs.
"I don't think any of this has set in," Sexton said. "It's special."
Michael Cummings threw for 139 yards and two scores for the Jayhawks, but he was also picked off twice -- once on a tipped pass, once on a ball kicked into the air by his intended target.
Kansas now heads into an uncertain offseason.
After Charlie Weis was fired four games into the season, defensive coordinator Clint Bowen did an admirable job steadying the program. The Jayhawks knocked off Iowa State and nearly upset the Horned Frogs, making him a popular candidate in the locker room.
Still, Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger has given no timetable for hiring a full-time coach, and he is expected to cast a wide net now that the season is over.
"We wanted to set an identity and to create a foundation to lead Kansas football forward," Bowen said. "I believe we had a good start on that."
Bowen could have certainly helped his cause with a competitive performance against Kansas State. Instead, the Wildcats had raced to a 14-0 lead before the Jayhawks could even blink.
After forcing a three-and-out on the game's opening possession, Waters led his team 71 yards in a little over 2 minutes for a touchdown. Then, after Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine deflected a pass that was picked off by Dante Barnett, Waters hit Lockett with a 44-yard TD strike.
Kansas State had pushed the lead to 24-6 and taken over again late in the first half when Lockett made it a Senior Night to remember. He caught a 17-yard pass on third-and-10 to break his father's school record for receptions, and four plays later caught a short touchdown pass to tie that mark, which Kevin Lockett set while starring for the Wildcats from 1993-96.
Watching from the sidelines, pop smiled broadly as his son crossed the goal line.
"To set the record, it just says a lot," Lockett said. "I have a great quarterback. My dad and uncle taught me a lot. And I'm able to celebrate it with a win."
Jones and Sexton added touchdown catches early in the second half for Kansas State, and freshman Matt McCrane connected on a career-best 52-yard field goal to extend the lead.
Meanwhile, the Jayhawks stumbled.
Along with that early batted pass that was picked off, wide receiver Rod Coleman bicycle kicked another pass at the goal line into the air and got it intercepted. The Jayhawks also had an extra point blocked in a sour ending to another tumultuous season.
"If you're not feeling like crap after this game," said senior linebacker Ben Heeney, one of several Kansas natives on the Jayhawks' roster, "there's something wrong."