|K-State's Collin Klein has a career-best 15 touchdown passes this season. (AP Images)|
Kansas State's Collin Klein came into this season as one of the most unappreciated players in college football. After putting up 40 touchdowns last season, he didn't even make the preseason All-Big 12 team.
But now that he's led his team to 11 wins, a Big 12 title, a berth in the Fiesta Bowl and accounted for 37 touchdowns, Klein is underappreciated no longer. The awards are starting to pour in, including CBSSports.com's Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
This was not as easy a pick as it may have seemed as both West Virginia's Tavon Austin (2,760 all-purpose yards) and Baylor's Terrance Williams (1,764 receiving yards) put up numbers that deserved consideration. However, what set Klein apart was the wins. And his numbers weren't bad.
Klein went to work in the offseason to improve as a passer and that's where he made his biggest leap this year. Klein has thrown for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns. Last season, he threw for 1,918 yards and 13 touchdowns, and it wasn't that he's simply throwing more this year. In fact, he has nine less attempts. Klein's completion percentage went from 57.3 to 66.2 percent, and his yards per attempt went from 6.8 to 9.2.
Klein's rushing numbers took a slight hit, only because he didn't get as many opportunities. Klein has ran for 890 yards and 22 touchdowns, down from 1,141 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. He is averaging 4.6 yards per rush, up from 3.6 yards per attempt in 2011.
Klein currently has 55 rushing touchdowns for his career and if he runs it in four times against Oregon, he will tie Nebraska's Eric Crouch's NCAA record for the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a career. That's not necessarily out of reach as he's had at least four rushing touchdown three times in his career.
The signature performances -- some might call them "Heisman moments" -- were also there for Klein in 2012.
- He completed 19 of 21 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns and ran for four touchdowns at West Virginia.
- He topped 100 yards rushing three times, including at Kansas where he averaged 11.6 yards per carry on 10 attempts.
Bill Snyder's teams pride themselves on playing close to perfect football, and that's probably what defined Klein's season. His throwing motion might not be ideal, but he put his team in position to win by making good decisions as evidenced by his six-game stretch without throwing an interception.
That allowed the Wildcats to have a magical season, and allowed the rest of us to appreciate their quarterback.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big 12 bloggers C.J. Moore and Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsBig12 on Twitter. You can also follow C.J. (@cjmoore4) and Patrick (@patricksouthern).