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 is the 5th time all-time that these two teams have met, but all four previous meetings were between 1910 and 1926, with K-State holding a 3-1 advantage.
Our latest Cotton Bowl odds list Arkansas as 7.5-point favorites, while the total (over/under) has been posted at 63 points.
Kansas State got off to a blistering-hot start, winning their first seven games of the season. The Wildcats then dropped two in a row before finishing out the season with three-straight victories. K-State enters the game with a 4-1 road record, their lone loss coming to a Oklahoma State.
The KSU offense ranks 30th nationally in 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.
Defensively, the Wildcats rank 71st nationally in points allowed (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 were probably the best team out of the SEC not named LSU or Alabama. Arkansas only lost to the two teams playing in the BCS Championship game, and both of those games were on the road.
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.
Cotton Bowl Free Pick: Under 63
Both defenses have improved as the season progressed. The under is 8-0 in Arkansas’ last 8 bowl games. There will be plenty of points scored here, but I think the posted total is set a little too high.
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