Anthony Webb and Aqib Talib walked to the locker room together after Kansas University's 39-20 victory Saturday, slithering through thousands of Jayhawk football fans who stormed the field to celebrate a rout of Kansas State.
Webb's eye black had two words scribbled on it that said plenty: "Show stopper."
KU's two cornerbacks - and the defense they play for - had plenty to do with Kansas becoming bowl-eligible Saturday for the second straight season. The Jayhawks forced six turnovers against KSU, two on Webb interceptions and another on a Talib pick.
It was a performance that did plenty to dismantle a massive hype machine under way for Josh Freeman. K-State's quarterback was celebrated nationally after he led the Wildcats to victory over No. 4 Texas last week. Many pundits pointed to him as the reason K-State had the edge heading into Saturday's game.
But the Jayhawks - much like Webb's mantra - were show stoppers. And they did so in spectacular fashion.
"I was rooting for them," Talib said of K-State. "I wanted them to beat Texas so that would make us look even better - after they beat Texas and come and get served by us."
Yes, some Kansas players were in giddy, somewhat cocky moods after Saturday's game, which marked the third straight victory for KU after a midseason funk seemed to doom the 2006 season.
Kansas (6-5 overall, 3-4 Big 12 Conference) now is bowl-eligible, and there's plenty of credit to be passed around. Running back Jon Cornish, who bluntly admitted "I've never liked K-State," was his usual solid self Saturday, picking up a career-best 201 yards on 25 carries - including impressive touchdown runs of 13 and 12 yards.
But if the story of the day possibly could be something other than a 200-yard rusher, KU's defense tried to tell it Saturday. The defense scored two touchdowns itself and set up ridiculously short drives that led to the Jayhawks' other two touchdowns, both Cornish runs.
Freeman, K-State's heralded freshman, had three interceptions and lost three fumbles. Even more damaging, three of those turnovers were returned a combined 99 yards for a scores or to set up a scores.
The two biggest came during KU's 19-point fourth-quarter surge. With 10:38 left, Webb picked off an attempted screen pass and bolted 42 yards for a touchdown, finishing the play with a showboating dive into the end zone despite no Wildcat within 20 yards of him.
The second, with 4:35 left, came when Freeman coughed the ball up as he was being hit by KU freshman Jeff Wheeler. The ball went right into Wayne Wilder's hands, and the 300-pound defensive tackle rumbled 34 yards down to the KSU 12-yard line. Cornish ran in on the next play to finish the game's scoring.
"There was just something about the game plan that (assistant coach) Bill Young and the defensive staff put together," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "Everything clicked. When you looked at them on tape and you looked at what we were doing, I thought we really had a chance to play well."
Add to it Cornish's tremendous game, and Kansas had the recipe for a big late-season victory. Heck, Kansas could have put up many more points had it not been for a turnover bug of its own.
Freshman quarterback Kerry Meier threw two interceptions and lost a fumble - all in the red zone - and Cornish coughed up the ball once, too.
But K-State's inability to stop its own bleeding helped Kansas run away with Saturday's game. Afterward, fans stormed the field, destroying helpless goal posts and carrying them up Campanile Hill toward Potter Lake.
A rivalry victory is one thing. Bowl eligibility is another. But that's not what Mangino took out of the 19-point win.
"It helps the big picture of our program," Mangino said. "That KU is now a team that you've got to reckon with in the North, in the conference, in the state of Kansas. That's the important thing."
Kansas will go for victory No. 7 - and a crack at second place in the Big 12 North - with a matchup Saturday at Missouri.
Cornish mentioned several times his disdain for Kansas State after Saturday's game. But now that the show to the West was stopped, the attention turns East to that other big game.
"I look forward to every game," Cornish said. "But next week? I'm looking forward to that one now."