Friday, January 6, 2012
Cotton Bowl: Kansas State vs. Arkansas
By David Ubben
We're ready to go for the final Big 12 game and the last big bowl before The Big Bowl on Monday night, the AllState BCS National Championship Game.
But for now, it's time to preview Friday's game between No. 8 Kansas State and No. 6 Arkansas. They'll get started at 8 p.m. ET at Cowboys Stadium on FOX.
WHO TO WATCH: Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. He's the guy who makes everything run for Kansas State's offense. The Wildcats go as he goes. He's improved as a passer throughout the season, and with his legs the offense's primary threat, it opens up easier throws down the field. Arkansas' defense has to make sure he's contained at all times and make sure it tackles well. He's proved how tough he is to bring down all season, and Arkansas will find out just how difficult it can be Friday.
WHAT TO WATCH: Tyler Wilson versus Kansas State's secondary. This has the potential to be explosive, either way. The last time Wilson faced a Big 12 secondary, he threw for 510 yards. Granted, Kansas State's defense is a lot better than Texas A&M's, especially at defending the pass. It also possesses the Big 12's interception leader, Nigel Malone, with seven. Linebacker Arthur Brown is fast enough to drop into coverage and be effective. This one is a must watch and, combined with Klein's production, will decide the game.
WHY TO WATCH: Let me count the ways. Two top 10 teams and arguably the second- or third-best matchup of all the bowl games. It's the only matchup between the Big 12 and the SEC. It's a matchup of two very different styles. How many more reasons do you need? This will be a fun one. Kansas State is a touchdown underdog, but the Wildcats were already an underdog in eight games this season. Of those eight games, it won six and finished 10-2. This is nothing new for Kansas State.
PREDICTION: Kansas State 34, Arkansas 31. I'll take the upset in this one. I've had a bead on the Wildcats all season, and I think Kansas State gets enough stops and the grinding running game frustrates an Arkansas defense that isn't strong enough to stop it. Since picking the Wildcats to lose by 14 to Baylor all the way back on Oct. 1, I've picked every Kansas State game correctly, including correctly picking it to win as an underdog four times. Let's make it five. College football's other honey badger at LSU gave Arkansas fits. Friday will make two.