Two BCS-worthy teams meet in the Cotton Bowl when the sixth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2) face the eighth-ranked Kansas State Wildcats (10-2) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Friday night.
Though the Razorbacks and Wildcats would prefer to be playing in a more high-profile bowl, a victory over a Top-10 opponent would be a solid boost for each program.
Arkansas's two losses were to LSU and Alabama -- the two teams playing in the BCS Championship. Kansas State's two losses were to Oklahoma State, which is currently ranked No. 3, and Oklahoma, which was the top-ranked team going into the 2011 season.
Kansas State squeaked by a number of opponents this season. Of the Wildcats' 10 victories, eight were within one score. In a road loss, Bill Snyder's squad gave a valiant effort against Oklahoma State, 52-45.
Arkansas, on the other hand, has blown out six of 10 opponents. At home, the Razorbacks defeated Texas A&M, Auburn, and South Carolina, which were all ranked at the time. However, Bobby Petrino's squad failed to keep the game close against LSU and Alabama on the road.
Both offenses place a heavy emphasis on their quarterbacks, though they have different styles. The Wildcats are led by running quarterback Collin Klein. The 6 foot, 5 inch junior completed just 57.8 percent of his passes, but rushed for 1,099 yards and 26 touchdowns.
When Klein isn't running the ball, he's usually handing the ball off to John Hubert. The sophomore running back averaged five yards a carry, and rushed for 933 yards, in 2011.
The Razorbacks have a first-year starter at quarterback who likes to throw, and rarely turns the ball over. Junior Tyler Wilson passed for 3,422 yards and 22 touchdowns, and was only intercepted six times in over 400 throws.
Wilson will be passing to a pair of talented senior wide receivers that are both under six-feet tall. Jarius Wright caught 63 passes for 1,029 yards, as well as 11 touchdowns in 2011. Joe Adams had 39 receptions for 630 yards to go along with three touchdowns. Adams is also a return specialist, who had a memorable punt return against Tennessee this season.
The Wildcats' defense is ranked 68th in the nation in terms of points allowed (27.8), while the Razorbacks' defense is ranked 38th (22.8).
No matter the outcome, the clear winner is the Cotton Bowl, which was able to secure two elite teams from the 2011 season for a game that will be the featured television sports program on a Friday evening.
We're really excited about the matchup between Arkansas and Kansas State, two top-10 teams, Cotton Bowl chairman Tommy Bain said. I might add there are only two other bowls that feature higher-ranked teams. We're really proud of that.
LINE: Arkansas are favored by 8.5 points.
OVER/UNDER: 64 points
PREDICTION: The Arkansas linebackers have the difficult task of containing the Kansas State running game. Klein and Hubert will need to have big games on the ground to keep the Wildcats' defense off the field and rested. The Razorbacks' offense is loaded with talent, and Kansas State's defense may have one of their biggest challenges of the season, but should be prepared after facing LSU in November. Expect the Razorbacks' defense to step up, while the offense does a good job of holding onto the ball and converting on third down.
PREDICTED SCORE: Arkansas over Kansas State, 42-27.