Manhattan Gary Barnett's "return to dominance" theme has become such a focal point for Colorado, the players have made it an acronym.
With a few more performances like Saturday's 16-6 victory over No. 12 Kansas State, they'll make it a reality.
"This is going to put us on the way to our RTD," said tackle Brandon Dabdoub, who had five tackles on his 20th birthday to help a smothering defense intercept two of Ell Roberson's passes and sack him six times.
Barnett, who became head coach in 1999 and took plenty of heat for his "return to dominance" promise after last year's 3-8 flop, said he had "never seen that defense play better."
"We wanted a Big 12 North title and we know we had to win this game to get it," he said.
Craig Ochs threw a 21-yard touchdown pass and Roman Hollowell set up Jeremy Flores' third field goal with a 53-yard punt return for the Buffs, who broke a four-year losing streak to Kansas State with their biggest win yet under Barnett.
Colorado (4-1, 2-0 Big 12), whose only loss was to a then-unranked Fresno State in the season opener, held the Wildcats (2-2, 0-2) scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter.
"They thought we were going to get rolled over," defensive end Matt McChesney said. "But we came in with huge confidence. We popped them in the mouth right off the bat and I don't think they expected that."
Kansas State's kicking game was miserable. Kyle Altvater missed two field goal attempts, including a 27-yarder, Jared Brite missed an extra point and punter Travis Brown bobbled a center snap and was tackled for a huge loss that led to Flores' 31-yarder.
"We work on (the kicking game) all the time," said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder. "Maybe we work on it too much. I don't know how many sacks we had. I'm sure it was a world record."
Colorado, which had last week off, appeared much fresher than a Kansas State team coming off a tough 38-37 loss at No. 3 Oklahoma.
"We just didn't get it done," Roberson said. "That's what it all comes down to."
The Wildcats had not lost consecutive regular-season games since 1994 or lost their first two conference games since 1992.
"When you have a week off, obviously you have time to get injuries healed up, time to rest, you get more time to prepare," Kansas State guard John Robertson said.
"But that's still no excuse for us to play the way we did. I am embarrassed by my performance."
The Buffs will be eagerly awaiting the release of this week's poll.
"I do think after the Fresno State game we lost a lot of national respect," Barnett said. "And it's too bad because Fresno State's an awful good football team."
In the first quarter, Ochs drove the Buffs 80 yards in nine plays for the only touchdown of the day.
The sophomore quarterback reeled off runs of 27 and 17 yards, then on second-and-nine from the 21, lifted a pass over the wrong shoulder of Daniel Graham, who adjusted and beat Milton Proctor with a juggling, one-handed TD catch.
Flores connected on field goals of 31 and 20 yards in the second quarter, giving the Buffs a 13-0 lead.
A few minutes after Roberson's two-yard TD run put Kansas State on the board with 8:26 to go, Hollowell uncorked his long punt return and Flores made it 16-6 with a 22-yarder with 2:37 left.
Roberson wound up passing for 107 yards, much of that on the final drive. He ran for only six yards and sustained an ankle injury in the final minute. Snyder said he was not sure how serious it was.
Workhorse back Chris Brown rushed for 114 yards on 33 carries for the Buffs.
Trailing 13-0 late in the third period, the Wildcats were given a great opportunity when their punt on fourth and 26 hit off the leg of Colorado's Clyde Surrell and was recovered by Kansas State on the 50.
A 29-yard gain by Danny Morris on a perfect pitch by Roberson set the Wildcats up on the Colorado 16.
But four plays later, Alvater was wide left on a 27-yard attempt. Alvater also missed on a 53-yarder in the second quarter.
A few minutes later, the Wildcats got their second big break when Henry Bryant snatched the ball out of the air after Terry Pierce had tipped Ochs' pass.
On fourth down, Roberson went 13 yards on a quarterback draw to the 17. On third and from the two, he took it over from the right side.