The Big 12's football season will come to a close on Saturday, rather than nine days later, thanks to Oklahoma's defeat at the hands of the Clemson Tigers. But at least the conference had a chance this year, unlike in 2015. Clemson will face Alabama, who put up one of the most dominating post-season performances in history last night as they strangled the life out of Michigan State.
But for us, the most important thing is a busy Saturday with the Liberty Bowl as well as both basketball teams in action. Our weekend could range anywhere from devastating to over the moon.
We only have one topic today, because everyone covering K-State sports is in Memphis. Before we get to the news, however, some advice: if you are driving to Memphis from Manhattan or the Kansas City area today, we can't advise you strongly enough to take the route through Springfield, West Plains, and Jonesboro. It's 60 miles shorter, and although it's not interstate highway (or even freeway), it is mostly 4-lane expressway grade all the way to Arkansas, and is freeway from Jonesboro to Memphis. What little time you lose on the less-developed section in Arkansas northwest of Jonesboro you will make up by not having to deal with Saint Louis (and potential flooding delays along I-55). Google Maps will tell you it's only about 10 minutes faster. Google Maps is lying, because Google Maps chronically overestimates non-freeway travel times.
The news hits are starting to come hot and heavy. The lineup:
From the Topeka Capital-Journal:
- Kevin Haskin reports on Matt McCrane's injury and recovery. McCrane will handle the kicking duties Saturday, as Jack Cantele is fighting a minor injury himself now.
- Ken Corbitt writes that Arkansas TE Hunter Henry will be a handful for the Wildcats' beleaguered defense.
- Morgan Burns is the subject of another piece by Corbett, detailing the kick returner's growth this season.
From the Kansas City Star/Wichita Eagle:
- Kellis Robinett is looking to the future in both of his articles today. First, he reports on bowl practices -- where K-State's redshirting freshmen have impressed, especially at wideout and on the offensive line.
- Robinett also reports on the situation with returning players next year, including the injured Dante Barnett and the expected quarterback battle -- noting that all five returning quarterbacks are now healthy and ready to practice. Included in the article: video with Travis Britz discussing the Liberty Bowl, and a unicorn: Del Miller being allowed to speak to the press.
- Lastly, Robinett provides video of Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith discussing the Wildcats.
- Our colleagues at Arkansas Fight have some stuff. Adam Ford provides an advanced stats preview of the Liberty Bowl. He's wrong about a lot, overreaching and making some poor assumptions, but the meat of his analysis is still sound.
- Also at Arkansas Fight, Robert Boyd offers up his reasons to hate K-State. All in fun, of course.
- K-State's quarterback question is still up in the air, according to Phil Stakenborg of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
- Somebody at FOX -- no idea who, because since they fired everyone nobody gets a byline except the stars -- reports that Kody Cook is one of the most interesting stories in CFB this season.
We can't promise anything, because it depends on a third party doing something four other third parties have failed to do so far this year, but we hope to have a Q&A with Ryan Higgins from Arkansas Fight ready for you prior to the game. Part Seven of FEPO will be up at 9am, and Part Eight will go live at the same time tomorrow. Also, the usual schedule of pre-game content should fire up today and tomorrow. EMAW!
Happy New Year!