Let’s start today’s Cotton Bowl Countdown blog with a question from an e-mailer named Brian: “Can you analyze the matchup in terms of common opponents, including any common opponents and perhaps those once or twice removed?”
You bet I can.
I’ve got to warn you now, though, Kansas State and Arkansas don’t have a ton of overlap with their schedules. Their only common opponent was Texas A&M, which they both defeated in dramatic fashion.
Here is how Arkansas did against the Aggies: Playing a nonconference game in Cowboys Stadium, the Razorbacks had to come from way behind to defeat Texas A&M. The Aggies took leads of 21-7 and 28-14 early, and led big 35-17 at halftime. But behind 510 passing yards from Tyler Wilson, the Razorbacks stormed back to win 42-38. Wilson connected with Jarius Wright for 281 of those yards.
Arkansas finished with 581 yards, while allowing 628.
Texas A&M made a habit of blowing big leads in the second half to opponents, and lost to K-State in exactly the same way.
Here is how K-State beat Texas A&M: Behind 384 total yards and six touchdowns from Collin Klein, and 134 receiving yards and a touchdown from Chris Harper, the Wildcats rallied from a 31-21 deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Texas A&M 53-50 in four overtimes.
K-State piled up 411 yards of offense while allowing 482.
So … if the way K-State and Arkansas played against Texas A&M means anything, it means both teams are evenly matched.
You can dig a little deeper for common opponents once or twice removed (I like that phrase, by the way) but I’m not sure how much that will tell you.
For example, K-State beat Eastern Kentucky 10-7 on a last-minute touchdown pass from Klein to Harper, and Eastern Kentucky turned around and beat Missouri State 28-24.
Arkansas beat Missouri State 51-7.
K-State also defeated Kent State soundly 37-0 to really get its season started. Earlier in the year, Kent State lost to Alabama 48-7. Alabama turned around and thumped Arkansas 38-14.
I’ll leave you to decide how that string of games impacts who will win the Cotton Bowl.
Editor’s Note: On Jan. 6, the Kansas State football team will face Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. With that in mind, I began counting down to the big game in Cowboys Stadium on Dec. 6 with 31 blog posts in 31 days. I use the word “attempting” because I can only think of so many blog ideas at the moment. I’m confident that I can go 31 for 31, but your help is appreciated. Feel free to send a blog idea (or two) my way at email@example.com.