TV Schedule: Saturday, Jan. 2, 3:20 p.m., ET, ESPN
Stadium: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Line: ARK (-12.5)
The last time Kansas State played an SEC team, the Wildcats lost 14-20 to Auburn at home (last season). Even a win might not have given the Wildcats much confidence heading into this year’s matchup with Arkansas.
Last season, Kansas State finished 9-3 and in third place in the Big 12. This season, the Wildcats sit in eighth place after a 6-6 season. The Wildcats need this bowl win to avoid a losing season, something that hasn’t happened since 2008.
Unfortunately, Kansas State has only won one bowl game since 2003, a 31-14 win over Michigan in the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. This will be Kansas State’s first trip to the Liberty Bowl, but head coach Bill Snyder is very familiar with Bret Bielema, who holds the same position for Arkansas. Bielema served as Snyder’s defensive coordinator from 2002-03.
A win over Kansas State would mean the first eight-win season for Arkansas since Bobby Petrino led the Hogs to a record of 11-2 in 2011, which was a season that ended with a victory over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
The Razorbacks need to end this season with a win after a tumultuous beginning almost had Bielema turning on a spit and roasting over a fire like the namesake of Arkansas’ mascot. Two quick losses to Toledo and Texas Tech had the season up in flames before it had a chance to really get started.
It seemed a dismal season was underway for the Razorbacks until a four-OT thriller against Auburn gave Arkansas a much-needed spark. Then the calendar turned to November and Arkansas finally found its momentum, beating a 19th-ranked Ole Miss 53-52 in OT. It won a week later by trouncing one-time playoff contender and ninth-ranked LSU 31-14.
Despite an ugly start, Arkansas managed to finish the season 7-5 and in third place in the SEC West, and plan to use a win over Kansas State as momentum to a less chaotic 2016 season.
Prediction: Arkansas 28, Kansas State 17