Two teams who were passed over for BCS bowls in favor of lesser teams – I’m talking to you Sugar Bowl – face off at Cowboys Stadium on Friday night in the only bowl game of the day when No. 8 Kansas State of the Big 12 faces No. 6 Arkansas of the SEC. The Hogs are 7.5-point college football bets favorites on WagerWeb.com.
Kansas State will be making its bowl appearance after being picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 Conference. When the dust had settled, however, the Wildcats were challenging Oklahoma State for the Big 12 title. The Wildcats lost only to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, in successive weeks.
Arkansas, meanwhile, finished third in the Southeastern Conference’s West Division, behind the BCS title-game finalists, LSU and Alabama. Those two teams gave the Razorbacks their only losses in 2011.
Each team’s offense have found success in different ways this season — the Razorbacks have excelled in the passing game (ranked 13th in the nation among Football Bowl Subdivision schools at 307.8 yards per game) behind QB Tyler Wilson while the Wildcats have done it with their ground game (ranked 27th in the nation at 193.7 ypg) behind dual-threat QB Collin Klein.
The Razorbacks come into the game as one of the most explosive offenses in the nation this season leading the SEC in passing offense (307.8 ypg), total offense (445.8 ypg) and first downs (22.2 per game). The Hogs are ranked second in the SEC and 15th in the FBS in scoring offense (37.4 points per game.
Arkansas racked up 2,000 more passing yards than rushing yards, compared to Kansas State, whose rushing attack outpaced the passing game by over 500 yards. The game, one of three bowls that features two teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS, figures to be one of the higher scoring bowl games of the season. Arkansas is 15th in the country in scoring (37.4), while Kansas State is 30th (33.1).
Kansas State and Arkansas don’t have much in common. Outside of a top-10 ranking, the first time the Cotton Bowl has hosted such a matchup in 18 years, there’s one big similarity: Neither would have been here without Texas A&M.
Arkansas rallied from the 35-17 deficit at halftime to win 42-38 in the final minutes against the Aggies. Kansas State, meanwhile, rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final six minutes to force overtime in Manhattan against the Aggies. Four overtimes later, the Wildcats stood tall, as 53-50 victors in what was arguably the best game in Big 12 history.
Arkansas missed the postseason in 2008, coach Bobby Petrino’s first season in Fayetteville. However the Razorbacks have rebounded with three straight January bowls, including last year’s BCS appearance in the Sugar Bowl. The former Southwest Conference member will be making its 12th Cotton Bowl appearance.
K-State did not get to a bowl from 2007-09, but the Wildcats returned to the postseason last year in the Pinstripe Bowl. This will be the 14th bowl in KSU history, and Bill Snyder has been the coach for 13 of those postseason games.