Two of the top non-conference winners in college football this year, Arkansas (2nd, SEC West) and Kansas State (2nd, Big 12), meet in the 2012 version of the Cotton Bowl. The meeting marks the first time in over 80 years that these two squads have played eachother.
This game will mark the renewal of an old-fashioned rivalry. These two schools have met four previous times between 1910 and 1926, with Kansas State winning three of those meetings. The Wildcats won the last meeting, 16-7, in Manhattan in 1926.
Our latest Cotton Bowl odds list Arkansas as 7.5-point favorites, while the total (over/under) has been posted at 62.5 points.
The Wildcats started 7-0, then lost two straight before rebounding with three straight wins, closing the regular season with a 30-23 home win over Iowa State to finish second in the Big 12 (6-2). Kansas State was 4-1 away from home, with the lone loss at Oklahoma State (52-45).
The Wildcats enter the game raking 30th in the country in offensive scoring (33 points per game) while recording 344 yards per game (194 rushing, 150 passing).
Collin Klein runs this offense by leading the running game with 1,099 yards and 26 touchdowns on 3.8 yards per carry and completing 58 percent of his passes for 1,745 yards and 12 touchdowns with five interceptions. The offensive line has allowed 36 sacks.
When Klein hands off, his top running mate is John Hubert with 933 yards and three TDs on 5.0 yards per carry. When Klein throws, his top receiving target is Chris Harper with 39 catches (16 more than anyone else) for 536 yards and five TDs.
On defense, K-State ranks 71st in the country in scoring defense (28 ppg) and surrender 399 yards per game (267 passing, 132 rushing) and recording 19 sacks and forcing 26 turnovers three of which have been returned for TDs (Nigel Malone, David Garrett and Allen Chapman, interceptions).
Arthur Brown leads the unit with 95 tackles, Meshak Williams paces the group with seven sacks. Malone has seven interceptions, Garrett has two fumble recoveries, Emmanuel Lamur has two forced fumbles and Raphael Guidry has four blocked kicks.
The Razorbacks had won seven straight games to be a threat to derail LSU’s national-title dreams, but they closed their regular season with a 41-17 loss at LSU to finish third in the SEC West (6-2). The Razorbacks were 3-2 away from home, with the only losses at Alabama and LSU.
Offensively, the Razorbacks rank15th in the nation in scoring offense (37 ppg), compiling 446 yards per game (308 passing, 138 rushing).
Tyler Wilson completes 63 percent of his passes for 3,422 yards and 22 TDs with six INTs. The offensive line has allowed 25 sacks. Jarius Wright is the top receiver with 63 receptions (14 more than anyone else) for 1,029 yards and 11 TDs, while Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo Jr. anchor the running game with a combined 1,077 yards and six TDs on 5.5 yards per carry.
The Razorbacks rank 37th in the nation in points allowed (23 ppg) and gives up 371 yards per game (197 passing, 174 rushing) while recording 22 sacks and forcing 19 turnovers two of which were returned for TDs (Jerry Franklin and Alonzo Highsmith, fumbles).
Franklin leads the unit with 93 tackles and two fumble recoveries, while Jake Bequette has eight sacks and four forced fumbles. Tramain Thomas has five interceptions to go with 87 tackles.