“We want to win every game, but we really want to win this one. We really want to get to No. 11. That might put us up there with the best teams in Kansas State history. That would be really special,” — Kansas State offensive tackle Clyde Aufner.
“We can win 11 games for the first time in a long, long time,” — Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino.
Take a look at those two quotes. Aside from the obvious reasons for wanting to win the Cotton Bowl, it’s pretty easy to tell what is driving both Arkansas and K-State this week.
They want to win 11 games.
Neither program has much of a history when it comes to 11-win teams.
Somewhat surprisingly, K-State has produced more 11-win teams than Arkansas has.
The Razorbacks went 11-0 and were named national champions in 1964 under legendary coach Frank Broyles and current ESPN analyst Lou Holtz guided them to an 11-1 record in 1977 on the way to a 31-6 win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
So when Petrino says a long, long time, he means 35 years.
For K-State, that gap is much smaller. It has won 11 games six times, with all six coming under Bill Snyder between the years of 1997 and 2004. Its last 11-win season came in 2003, when it won the Big 12 championship game and advanced to the Fiesta Bowl.
A win in the Cotton Bowl would propel both teams into elite company. It’s obvious to see why that is important to them.
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 by attempting to write 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.