At this point, most rational people admit that the BCS is a flawed system. The current bowl setup has given us some great games this postseason to be sure, but the system still has some major issues and this game is another example of them. The Sugar Bowl last week, a BCS bowl, had 2 teams outside the top 10 in the BCS standings. The Cotton Bowl, this Friday night, which isn’t a BCS game, does get 2 teams in the top ten of the BCS. Make sense? I don’t think so either.
K-State’s AD John Currie was quoted in an AP preview as saying, “So either have them and use them, or just don’t have them. I would be fine if we did away with the thing.” I second the motion John, and think of how awesome all these past few bowl games would have been if now the winners advanced and Oregon played WVU and Oklahoma State awaited the winner of the ‘Bama-LSU rematch… Alas, it’s only theoretical thanks to the crazy current system… All that being said, let’s talk about the game we do have which should be a great Cotton Bowl.
Bowl Breakdown: The system that gave us this game is messed up, the game itself should be a sweet one. Kansas State far exceeded expectations and finished the season ranked eighth in the country. They started the season 7-0 before losing games to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in conference play. Arkansas’s losses are also quality losses as the only 2 schools that beat them are in the BCS National Championship game.
The two offenses are completely different, but both effective. K-State utilizes the talent of QB Collin Klein who is a legitimate dual threat with 1,745 yards and 12 TDs in the air and another 1,099 yards and another 26 scores on the ground. Klein led the 29th ranked offense in scoring-per-game averaging 33 points per game. The Arkansas offense ranks slightly better at 37.4 a game good enough for 15th in the nation.
The Razorbacks are a pass-based offense centered on Jr. QB Tyler Wilson who led the SEC in passing yards with 3,422 and finished with 22 TD’s and just 6 INTs. Wilson never threw multiple interceptions in a game this year, and threw multiple TDs 8 times while only being held without a pass TD once (and in that game he rushed for 2). His #1 receiver Jarius Wright has over 1,000 yards receiving and 11 TDs and will be hard for K-State’s defensive secondary to contain.
The Wildcats defense has been beatable through the air all season and finished the year ranked 104th (out of 120) in passing yards allowed. The one thing the Wildcats have in their favor defensively is they have a much better turnover margin (over +1 per game) than the Hogs (even). Arkansas’s defense is led by Tramain Thomas who had 5 picks from his Safety position.
Joe Adams gives Arkansas an advantage in the special teams game as he’s a dynamic return man who scored on multiple highlight-reel plays this year and has a great combo of vision and speed.
Arkansas is definitely the favorite and the spread is up to 8.5 now. I wouldn’t give the points, but the fact that the Wildcats can’t defend the pass while Arkansas is one of the top passing teams in the country doesn’t bode will for the purple. K-State is not LSU or Alabama and so far Arkansas’s handled everybody else so I expect the Hogs to take the Cotton bowl by 7-10 points. Tyler Wilson should have a huge game and Jarius Wright will continue to help his draft stock with a big bowl game and could even get into the 2nd round discussion.
Pro Prospects: Jarius Wright-Ark-WR: Wright is projected to be a 3rd or 4th round pick whose stock could rise if he grades out well in the pre-draft process. He could go in the 2nd if he keeps climbing as he has been. Joe Adams-Ark-WR: Adams has been awesome in the return game and although he doesn’t have the polish or the route running of Wright, his speed and raw ability will have him coming off the board in the 3rd or early 4th round… Arthur Brown-KSU-LB: The Wildcats speedy, run-stopping ILB will return for his Sr. year next year, but will be playing on Sundays in 2 years barring injury or a major degression… There’s not really any other KSU prospects at this point. Most of the ‘cats aren’t elite athletes and blue-chip prospects, but their strength is that they play so well as a team.
This should be a great game and I look forward to seeing Wilson and the Hogs offense as well as Collin Klein and K-State’s unique system.