Friday, January 6, 2012
Cotton Bowl: Three keys for Kansas State
By David Ubben
K-State and Arkansas will get it started Friday in Cowboys Stadium at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, and here are three keys for Kansas State to grab a win.
1. Absolutely slow the big plays. K-State was blown out once all season. Oklahoma did it with touchdowns of 61, 31, 29 and 18 yards in a 58-17 win. Arkansas has the capability to blow Kansas State's doors off, but the Wildcats have proven mostly capable of at least slowing or keeping up with high-octane offenses such as Baylor and Oklahoma State's. Arkansas' not quite on that level, but the Razorbacks are really potent. The biggest way to let this get out of hand is pretty simple: quick scores and yardage coming in chunks.
2. Grind, grind, grind. We all know there ain't nothin' wrong with that. Even in the Big 12. Kansas State's a unique team, but it may finish this game with two 1,000-yard rushers. Collin Klein's already there, but running back John Hubert -- far underrated in his own right -- needs just 67 more yards to cross that mark. He's averaging nearly 5 yards a carry. This running attack can wear down Arkansas' defense, but the less the Hogs have the ball in their hands, the better for K-State. The Wildcats are fourth nationally in time of possession for a reason. They run the ball, and they've turned the ball over just 13 times in 12 games. Five teams have fewer turnovers.
3. Snyderball, baby. This is what K-State does. Chances are high it gets outgained in this game. That's nothing new. Earlier this season, it won four consecutive games in which it was both an underdog and outgained. This will almost certainly be another one. It wins by making defensive stops and forcing turnovers and capitalizing on special-teams play. Kick returner Tyler Lockett, who took two kicks back for scores, is the only piece missing. He's out with a kidney injury. Raphael Guidry loves to block kicks (he has four this season), and Anthony Cantele has been solid in the place-kicking game. K-State knows to win where it counts most. This team, especially.