Everyone knows that the Cotton Bowl, pitting Kansas State vs. Arkansas, will be a great game. But not everyone knows everything about the matchup and Kansas State athletics in general like our friend Sam Young. So we brought him in to give us a breakdown of the game. Like we said before, he knows his Kansas State football.
The 2012 Cotton Bowl Classic should be a dandy this year. The game features two top ten teams playing in what many consider the nicest football stadium in the world, the new Cowboy’s Stadium. The representative from the SEC, Arkansas, is coming off of a 10-2 regular season with its only two losses to Alabama and LSU. The representative from the Big 12, Kansas State, is also coming off a 10 win regular season and is looking to reach 11 wins for the first time since 2003, when Ell Roberson, Darren Sproles and company brought home a Big 12 Title. Kansas State’s resurgence has been led by none other than head coach Bill Snyder, who is up for many National Coach of the Year honors.
Two 10 win programs.
Two great coaches.
One awesome venue.
And only one winner.
This should be interesting….
When Arkansas Runs: Before the season even started, Arkansas lost starting running back Knile Davis to a season ending ankle injury. Consequently, Arkansas has the 9th ranked rushing attack in the SEC. Add that up with a stout K-State front seven led by Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Arthur Brown, we don’t see Arkansas running the ball with much success in this one
When Arkansas Passes: As mentioned previously, Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson has had a fantastic year throwing the football. His favorite target is his 5-10 senior Jarius Wright. Kansas State has had trouble stopping the pass this year. Although K-State cornerback Nigel Malone led the Big 12 with 7 interceptions this year, look for a big day from quarterback Tyler Wilson throwing the ball.
When K-State Runs: Arkansas gave up an average of 174 rush yards a game this season. This will be probably the second best rushing attack Arkansas will face this season, behind Alabama. Kansas State under Bill Snyder has always been a run first team. Expect K-State quarterback Collin Klein and running back John Hubert to have field days running against this Arkansas defense.
When K-State Passes: Although Collin Klein’s forte is running the ball, he is also a pretty decent passer. K-State has some good receivers in Tramaine Thompson, Sheldon Smith and Chris Harper. They will be missing arguably their biggest playmaker in freshman receiver Tyler Lockett, who lacerated his kidney in the November 5th game against Oklahoma State. Arkansas has a pretty good pass defense that will be tested against K-State receiving core. K-State’s run game will be good enough to set up some play action to throw the Arkansas secondary off balance.
Coaching: The recent firing of defensive coordinator Willy Robinson and Garrick McGee taking the UAB job, added to Arkansas’s lack of success in bowls, give K-State’s Bill Snyder and his staff the edge in this category
Intangibles: The game is being played in close proximity to both schools, so expect to see a good amount of fans from both schools at the Jerry Dome. The one thing that sticks out in our minds is the “no respect” card played by K-State all year. They got snubbed out of a Sugar Bowl bid and have been underdogs in over half of their games played this year. K-State will be very hungry and want to prove the doubters wrong…..again.
Prediction: Although K-State has an advantage in many categories, I think Arkansas will prevail. Tyler Wilson and the potent Arkansas passing attack will prove too much for K-State. Expect it to be a close game with K-State being able to tie or win it on the last drive, but they will eventually come up short