Cotton Bowl Picks & Predictions: Arkansas vs. Kansas State 1/6/12

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The Arkansas Razorbacks ended up being ineligible for the BCS this year, while the Kansas State Wildcats were almost certainly snubbed. That being said, the two should make for a great Cotton Bowl betting battle in Big D in a great standalone contest right in the middle of all of the BCS madness.

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Cotton Bowl Matchup: Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Kansas State Wildcats
Cotton Bowl Date/Time: Friday, January 6th, 8:00 ET
Cotton Bowl Location: Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Cotton Bowl Odds: Arkansas -7.5
Cotton Bowl Total: 62.5
Cotton Bowl TV Coverage: FOX

There is no doubt in our mind that these are two of the best ten teams in America, though the loser of this game is going to have a tough gripe to finish out the year ranked in the Top 10. Arkansas’ only two losses this year were to the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide, the two teams that are playing against each other in the BCS National Championship Game, and both games came on the road to boot. Kansas State was absolutely toasted by the Oklahoma Sooners before they fell apart, but in its other loss, it gave the Oklahoma State Cowboys a run for their money in Stillwater in a loss that we felt was almost as good as a win from the standpoint of the BCS once the Pokes crushed the Sooners in Bedlam.

There aren’t many out there that would argue about Arkansas being the favored team in this game. The Hogs have a tremendous offense with QB Tyler Wilson calling the shots. Sure, he struggled against the Bayou Bengals the last time that we saw him play, but who doesn’t? Against an atrocious schedule this year, Wilson still threw for 3,422 yards and 22 TDs against just six INTs. The talent at receiver on this team is immense. WR Greg Childs was injured for a good chunk of the year, and that’s why he only has 16 receptions, but WR Jarius Wright had 63 catches for 1,029 yards and 11 TDs, WR Cobi Hamilton averaged 16.6 yards per reception, and WR Joe Adams had 49 receptions for 630 yards. It’s amazing that this team had anything going on the ground this year, though. RB Broderick Green missed the majority of the season injured, and RB Knile Davis hasn’t taken a single snap all season long. RBs Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo picked up the slack, but the hope that Davis might be able to get back in the lineup for this game because of the lateness of the bowl date is encouraging for the Razorbacks.

You absolutely cannot rest on this Kansas State side, though. Sure, the stats aren’t all that pretty. The team only ranked No. 97 in the nation in total offense at 343.4 yards per game, and it allowed 55 more yards per game than it managed. Sure, the pass defense ranked No. 105 in the land and has to go up against this ridiculous Arkansas unit this game. And sure, teams averaged 27.8 points per game against this defense against the 33.1 points scored. The schedule was soft. We know. The Wildcats caught the Baylor Bears and Missouri Tigers at home before they really got hot, got the Texas A&M Aggies and Texas Longhorns after they got cold, and got incredibly lucky at times along the way. Teams like that shouldn’t be in bowl games like this one, but in this case, we think that there is a reason to believe that an upset could occur.

The biggest heart on the field is going to belong to QB Collin Klein. He’s a big boy at 6’5″, 226 lbs, but he just doesn’t have great receivers to work with. He’s a marginal passer, completing just 57.8 percent of his passes, and he only threw 12 scores on the campaign. That being said, he has some grit. He has rushed the football a whopping 293 times, an average of 24.4 times per game, and though he only picked up 3.8 yards per carry, he did score 26 times. There were only seven offensive touchdowns all year that didn’t either come from his legs or his arm. There’s a reason that this team won so many games. We love the heart and we love the intensity, and in the end, that will be enough to at least keep the Wildcats within a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl.

Free Cotton Bowl Pick: Kansas State +7.5

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Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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