This will be the first-ever meeting between two schools, as the Cotton Bowl–a bowl game that seems to have fallen off the radar in recent years–boasts a very good matchup between two highly-ranked and fairly local teams.
The 10-2 Arkansas Razorbacks, who were once ranked No. 3 this season, and the 10-2 Kansas State Wildcats, a pleasant surprise this season under their old-school coach.
When: Friday, January 6, 2012, 8:00 PM EST
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
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And these two teams could not be more different on the field.
While, Arkansas relies on quarterback Tyler Wilson to sling the ball around for a pass-happy offense, Kansas State on the other hand relies on their quarterback for whole different reason. Collin Klein will not blow you away with his passing statistics, but instead with his outstanding rushing totals with over 1,000 yards and five 100-yard games during the regular season.
The spread in this one might appear a little too much at first glance for the more casual fan, and although this is a game between the No. 6 and No. 8 ranked teams in the country, if you look a little closer you will see just how big of a mismatch this is.
Kansas State has a horrible pass defense. One of the worst in the country in fact. This is an area that may decide the outcome in this one when going up against one of the better passing offenses in the nation.
Even with the high spread number, odds makers are still prognosticating this game to be a shootout with a total near the 63 mark, but that’s a drop from the 64 or so most places started it at.. I don’t agree.
If Kansas State is going to win this game or even come close, a lot of things are going to have to fall in place. The main thing the Wildcats are going to have to do is find a way to slow down the Razorbacks’ vaunted passing game. The Hogs are averaging 308 yards per game passing this season, compared to their 138 yards rushing.
Nevertheless, Kansas State is a good football team in large part. They do a pretty good job at hanging on to the football and they are a pretty efficient on offense. And despite their secondary deficiencies — allowing 399 YPG overall, 267 of those through the air –they can slow down the run pretty well. The Wildcats could cover this spread if they are able to get out ahead early and are able to use their outstanding running game, which is averaging 194 YPG rushing, 150 YPG passing, to control the clock.
Meanwhile, Arkansas just needs to keep doing what they have been doing. They have been playing outstanding football this season and should be able to pick apart a porous Kansas State pass defense.
Arkansas could blow the doors off this one if they are able to get ahead by two or more scores early on, forcing KSU to leave their comfort zone and throw the ball a little more than they are used to, which could lead to costly turnovers.
The Wildcats are averaging 194 YPG rushing per game, and will need to utilize their masterful running game mostly behind a solid effort from Klein to its fullest effect, to keep this one close heading into the fourth quarter.
I expect this will fall short of the 63 points based solely on the premise that I do not feel Kansas State will be able to mount any threat through the air, slowing the game down and ultimatley resulting in a much lower total.
Matt’s Prediction: Arkansas 34 – Kansas State 21
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