Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Kansas St vs Arkansas 2012 Cotton Bowl Game Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on FOX 1/6/12: The 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl might as well be considered the unofficial sixth BCS bowl. After all, the two teams playing are arguably more impressive than half the teams playing in the elite bowls. The eighth-ranked Kansas State Wildcats (10-2) were passed over by the BCS bowls in favor of traditional powers like Michigan and Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, the sixth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2) were not allowed to compete in a BCS bowl because of a rule preventing three times from the same conference from being chosen. Never mind the fact that the three of the four loses between the teams came to the top three teams in the country. While the two programs have every reason to be bitter, they will have to take their anger out on one another when they meet Friday night. The Razorbacks are sizeable eight-point favorites.

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Believe it or not, Arkansas actually finished third in its own division despite being ranked sixth in the entire nation. The Razorbacks finished third in the SEC West, with national title contenders LSU and Alabama finishing ahead of them. Coincidentally, the Razorbacks’ only losses on the season came to the Tigers and the Crimson Tide. Although an official record, Arkansas may have been the best third-place team in college football history. Kansas State can’t quite boast the same resume because of an ugly loss to preseason No.1 Oklahoma, but the Wildcats did come within one play of forcing overtime against the third-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in their other defeat.

Both teams had two of the better offenses in the country this season. The Razorbacks ranked in the top 15, scoring 37.4 points per game. The Wildcats weren’t too far behind, ranking inside the top 30 with 33.1 per game. Although both teams scored plenty of points, their offensive styles were night and day. The Razorbacks spread the field and utilize the short and intermediate passing game. Meanwhile, Kansas State is a run-first team that features everything from option sets to power formations.

Although different, both systems rely heavily on the quarterback position for success. Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson was the model of efficiency, throwing for nearly 3,500 yards and completing 63 percent of his passes. He enters Friday’s matchup with 22 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions. Star receiver Jarius Wright is his top target, and he 11 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards entering the bowl game. When Wilson is making quick decisions with the ball, the Razorbacks’ fast-paced attack is tough to defend.

Kansas State’s Collin Klein can’t come close to matching Wilson’s numbers through the air, but Klein is one of the top dual-threat QBs in the country. In addition to his 12 touchdown passes, Klein has an incredible 26 rushing scores to go along with 1,099 yards on the ground. When the Wildcats get in the red zone, Klein’s power makes him almost impossible to keep out of the end zone.

The X-factor in the game is likely going to be the Kansas State defense. The unit gave up almost 28 points per game on the year and was even worse against the top offenses in the Big 12. The Wildcats gave up 50 or more points three times in its final six games, including in the team’s two losses on the year. The Razorbacks’ offense is certainly capable of putting up points, and more importantly, their defense is giving up less than 23 points per game.

While the Wildcats deserve a lot of credit for finding ways to grind out wins in a variety of ways this season, the fact is that they couldn’t slow down opponents with high-powered passing attacks. Wilson and the Razorbacks are a matchup nightmare for Kansas State’s suspect defense, and while Klein and company can put points on the board as well, they aren’t at their best when they have to win in an offensive shootout. The Wildcats power running game won’t be enough to overcome the Arkansas scoring machine.

Prediction: Arkansas Razorbacks (-9) Cover the Spread

Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Arkansas -9 to cover the spread

2012 Cotton Bowl: Arkansas vs Kansas St
Date: 1/6/12
Time: 8:00 PM EST on FOX
Vegas Odds - Favorite: Arkansas -9 Total: Over/Under 63

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