ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Kansas State fans sure seemed ready for Friday's AT&T Cotton Bowl. It seemed all the seats on the press box side were filled with purple-clad Wildcats fans.
And while they were fired up, the Wildcats' offense couldn't seem to do the same early in a 29-16 loss to Arkansas.
A Kansas State team that relies on a ground attack, timely special teams and limiting mistakes didn't follow its usual blueprint. In fact, Arkansas beat Kansas State at its own game.
Despite not having a first down for much of the first quarter, Arkansas snagged a 10-0 lead. The Razorbacks did it with a fumble recovery deep in Kansas State territory and a 51-yard punt return for a touchdown by the electrifying Joe Adams.
“We knew he was a talented player and we knew he could make you miss him,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “That’s not the first time he’s done that.”
The Kansas State defense worked hard to limit Arkansas’ offense, but the Wildcats' offense wasn’t able to get anything going.
“We just weren’t ready to play,” Snyder said of his offense.
Arkansas took a 19-0 lead with just more than four minutes left in the first half, and it appeared the Wildcats were in danger of getting blown out. But a blocked PAT returned for two points -- finally a big special teams play -- and two touchdowns in the next two possessions got the Wildcats within three points.
Kansas State couldn’t keep it going. A team that likes to run the football wasn’t able to do it consistently enough against a strong Arkansas defense.
“We needed to stop the run and we needed to stop this quarterback,” Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said.
They didn’t stop Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein completely, but they contained him. And they forced Klein to throw the ball more than he’d prefer. He had 30 attempts, the second most he’s thrown this season. The only other time he threw more than 29 times was against Oklahoma State in a 52-45 loss.
It was Klein’s rushing ability that worried the Razorbacks the most, but he was held to 41 yards on 24 carries. The only time he rushed for fewer yards this season was against Texas.
Klein didn’t make any excuses for the offense’s slow start. Some of his receivers dropped passes. Klein didn’t see as many open holes as he normally does when he’s rushing the football, and he wasn’t able to strike for the big play.
“We had our chances, and weren’t able to finish the job and execute on the field,” Klein said. “We came up short. We didn’t get it done as a unit. We’ll learn from it.”