The 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl celebrates its 76th anniversary as the only bowl game outside of the BCS that features a match-up of Top 10 teams.
The eighth ranked Kansas State Wildcats battle number six Arkansas Razorbacks in primetime on January 6th under the lights at Jerry World. The last time a pair of teams with such lofty rankings knocked heads in the Cotton Bowl was 1994. The Wildcats and Razorbacks haven’t played since 1967 when Arkansas won 28-7 in Little Rock. The only other times the two teams met were in 1910, then again in 1911 and 1926 with K-State winning all three games.
Kansas State and Arkansas are no strangers to postseason play. This will be the Wildcats’ 15th bowl appearance, and for the Razorbacks it is trip number 39 into postseason play. Kansas State owns an all-time bowl record of 6-8-0, with 13 of those coming under current Coach Bill Snyder. Arkansas has compiled an all-time postseason mark of 12-23-3. The Hogs 39 bowl appearances rank 14th nationally among NCAA teams.
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, who retired in 2005 after 17 seasons at the helm of the Wildcats and then returned to lead the program in 2009, has the Wildcats back in the Cotton Bowl for the first time since 2001 and the third time in its history. This season Kansas State finished 10-2 and 7-2 in the Big 12 Conference. The Cats success is due in large part to a potent ground attack and a defense that ranks among the best against the run and in turnover margin. After debuting in the BCS rankings at No. 11 in mid-October, the Wildcats moved to No. 8 before falling back to 14th. K-State then started the climb back into the Top 10 to end the regular-season at No. 8. Starting quarterback Collin Klein is one of the most efficient signal callers in college football. Klein leads the nation with 26 touchdowns. The leader on the defensive side of the ball is middle linebacker Arthur Brown, the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Brown collected 95 tackles and cornerback Nigel Malone pulled down seven interceptions to lead the Big 12 and rank third nationally.
Arkansas enters the Cotton Bowl with an overall record of 10-2 and a 6-2 mark in the Southeastern Conference. Head coach Bobby Petrino, in his fourth year at Arkansas after a short stint with the NFL Atlanta Falcons, led the Razorbacks to their first BCS appearance in school history with an invitation to the Allstate Sugar Bowl last year. The Hogs have posted 10 victories in consecutive seasons for just the third time in Arkansas history and the first time since 1988-89, seasons in which the Razorbacks made back-to-back trips to the Cotton Bowl. Under Petrino’s leadership, the Hogs have become a proven offensive machine. This year, the Razorbacks have surpassed nearly every school passing record. Leading the way for Arkansas is quarterback Tyler Wilson who tops the SEC in passing yards per game, total yards passing, total offense and pass completions. Wilson’s receiving corps is one of the nation’s best, if not the best, with the likes of Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and a number of other fast and sure-handed receivers. Defensive end Jake Bequette ranks second in the SEC and is tied for ninth nationally in sacks per game. The Razorbacks were ranked No. 9 in the first week of BCS rankings in October, and climbed as high as No. 3 on November 20. The Hogs head into the Cotton Bowl with a No. 6 ranking.