Before bowl season, Bill Connelly wrote a post ranking the bowls for watchability. The criteria were Quality (team F/+ rankings), Evenness (the difference between the two teams' F/+ rankings), Excitement (looking at teams that make big plays on offense and defense), and Improvement (delta from midseason F/+ rankings, designed to measure a team's interest level in a bowl game).
The Liberty Bowl ranked in the last tier of bowl games, titled "Addiction is painful."
By the numbers, this is a terrible matchup for K-State. Arkansas ranks 15th in F/+, while K-State languishes at 77th. Neither team plays particularly aggressively. Excitement is open to question. Judging by the secondary market, the stadium should be sold out. But it's still a game between teams that went a combined 13-11.
Players to Watch
Passing: Joe Hubener, 131-274-9, 1,837 yards, 6.7 yards/attempt, 9 TDs, 153.1 yards/game
Rushing: Charles Jones, 136 carries, 656 yards, 4.8 yards/carry, 5 TDs, 54.7 yards/game
Receiving: Deante Burton, 34 receptions, 477 yards, 14.0 yards/reception, 4 TDs, 39.8 yards/game
Passing: Brandon Allen, 224-344-7, 3,125 yards, 9.1 yards/attempt, 29 TDs, 260.4 yards/game
Rushing: Alex Collins, 248 carries, 1,392 yards, 5.6 yards/carry, 17 TDs, 116.0 yards/game
Receiving: Drew Morgan, 55 receptions, 751 yards, 13.7 yards/reception, 10 TDs, 62.6 yards/game
This doesn't make me feel a lot better about this matchup. K-State will need a big game from its front seven to keep the Hogs from running wild. Even if that happens, Arkansas is hardly helpless throwing the ball, and K-State is still depleted in the secondary. To top it off, Arkansas protects the ball well.
But we have way better special teams!
As always, thanks to jeffp for the advanced stats charts.
Vegas favors Arkansas by anywhere from 11-12.5 points. S&P+ favors the Hogs by even more. How does K-State hang in this game?
The formula is familiar for teams coached by Bill Snyder. K-State needs a big play or two on special teams, and a turnover or two to set up an easy score. Preventing Arkansas from breaking big plays on offense for easy scores would be helpful, too.
Odds of all that happening? You've watched K-State as much as I have this year, so you know they're low. But who knows. Arkansas managed to lose to Toledo, Texas Tech and Texas A&M this year, too. Of course, they also beat Mississippi and LSU.
Razorbacks 42, Wildcats 21