Collin Klein, Kansas State quarterback
No. 8 Kansas State (10-2) vs. No. 6 Arkansas (10-2), Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Texas, Friday Jan. 6, 8:00 p.m. ET (FOX)
: You may have read my diatribe about how much I hate the bowl season. I recognize that was supposed to be a preview of the Fiesta Bowl. Instead, it became a screed. I apologize for that.
How about if I make up for it here. This will be a real preview of the Cotton Bowl. No filler. I promise.
Actually, before I do that, let me tell you a quick story.
Of all the major college football venues (and despite my vitriolic hatred of all things bowl game), the Cotton Bowl was the one place that I held somewhat near and dear to my heart. But that's largely because of what it wasn't than what it was.
The original Cotton Bowl stadium was built in 1929 (hat tip to Wiki). When I was a kid growing up in the Dallas suburbs, I remember it looking every bit its age. It was not a newfangled contraption that oozes luxury and was built for a modern audience more interested in spectacle than the game itself. No dome. Nothing special.
I remember going to a few Cotton Bowl (and also UT/OU) games as a kid there. We sat in the cheap seats. Even then I remember pondering the history of this one place. Doak Walker. Y.A. Tittle and the "Ice Bowl." Joe Montana. Jim Brown. Ernie Davis. James Street. Bo Jackson. Troy Aikman. Ricky Williams. Eli Manning.
I hate bowl games. But what I always found interesting about the Cotton Bowl was its decorated history. It's as much a time capsule as it is a bowl game. That's one aspect of bowl season I can appreciate.
But none of that matters now. The Cotton Bowl is no longer played in the Cotton Bowl anymore. Despite renovations to the old place, officials thought best to move the game to Jerry World (for the uninitiated, that would be the Cowboys new stadium about a half-hour drive away). Now the Cotton Bowl is played in a billion dollar facility, under a retractable roof, under one of the world's largest HD screens.
Nothing wrong with that. But my friendly football ghosts, the ones that made me fall in love with college football in the first place, don't live there.
Sorry, this was a longer detour than I intended. What do I think of Arkansas and Kansas State?
It'll be mildly interesting to watch because both teams have some distinctions. The Razorbacks' two losses this season came to the two best teams in the SEC (who are now playing for the national championship). The Wildcats may be the best team no one is paying attention to.
That's really all I know. Pundits are calling it one of the more intriguing non-BCS match-ups. But does that really mean anything?
If nothing else, this game should introduce many folks to Kansas State. Coach Bill Synder did one of the more remarkable coaching jobs this season, taking a team that went 3-5 in conference play a year ago to 7-2 this season (10-2 overall). Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein had one of the more under-the-radar seasons in college football. He threw for 1,745 yards and 12 touchdowns, and rushed for another 1,099 yards and 26 touchdowns.
For Arkansas, it means getting the taste of their last game -- a 41-14 loss to LSU -- out of their mouths.
My prediction: Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson will move the ball on the 'Cats, but Kansas State will force him into some bad decisions (just as they did with Heisman winner Robert Griffin III). The K-State offense will turn to their ground game, as they always do, and just keep the chains moving while burning out the clock. The Wildcats won't be pretty to watch, but it'll be enough.
Corner's choice: Kansas State 21, Arkansas 18