The Cotton Bowl is almost here. To help you get through the remaining hours - and to help you know a little bit more about the Hogs' opponent - we present this Q&A with TB, the manager of Bring on the Cats, SB Nation's Kansas State Wildcats blog. Many thanks to TB for his insight and time. Read on to get his analysis of this year's Wildcats team, his take on the magic of Bill Snyder and his forecast for the Cotton Bowl.
Give us an overall picture of the strengths and weaknesses of this year's Kansas State team.
Offensively, K-State is pretty solid running the ball. Collin Klein leads the way with running back-like numbers, and John Hubert has been a solid running back when healthy. The passing game is nothing to write home about, but after the rushing attack lulls opposing defenses to sleep, they know how to hit a play-action pass.
On defense, K-State is probably the most-improved team in the country stopping the run, going from 119th in 2010 to 39th this season. A lot of that can be attributed to the addition of Arthur Brown, but the play of DL Ray Kibble helped a lot. But for all the improvement in rushing defense, K-State's passing defense has been pretty bad. Against the high-powered spread attacks in the Big 12, K-State's best chance to stop opposing offenses was often forcing turnovers.
What aspect of the Razorbacks are you most excited about facing, and what component of the Hogs has you the most worried?
It looks like K-State should be able to have some success running the ball. Arkansas certainly isn't bad at stopping the run, but they would be about the middle of the pack in the Big 12, where K-State averaged almost 200 yards per game on the ground. And even if the rushing yards don't always translate into points, they eat up the clock and keep the Razorback offense on the sideline. Which leads me to what I'm concerned about, which is...
...without a doubt quarterback Tyler Wilson and his wide receivers. The Razorbacks appear to have a passing game comparable to some of the better Big 12 attacks, and most of the time K-State was happy just to slow down those outfits.
Bill Synder has had a remarkable career at Kansas State. Give us some insight into the man - what's the secret to his success?
He's probably the best in the business at evaluating his personnel and getting the most out of them. Snyder is excellent at managing a roster, evaluating the players he has on the roster by identifying their strengths and weaknesses, and then molding a game plan to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. As an example of his ability, look no further than his reliance on junior college players. He realized very early on that he wasn't going to compete for four- and five-star recruits very often, but he knew that Kansas has perhaps the best network of junior-college football in the country. By mining that talent, Snyder gets a lot of talented players that other coaches pass on, and turns a weakness into a strength.
Much has been made about Kansas State being snubbed out of a BCS bowl invite. How do you think that will factor into Friday's game: are the Wildcats more likely to play deflated or will they be fired up and determined to prove the BCS'ers wrong?
It would surprise me if it plays much of a factor. A lot of K-State fans were undoubtedly unhappy about the snub, but this is still the biggest bowl K-State has played in since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. The Wildcats will definitely be fired up to play in this one; this isn't the type of program that is deflated by "only" making the Cotton Bowl.
Crystal ball time: Who wins the Cotton Bowl and what will be the final score?
On Fayetteville radio on Tuesday, I picked Arkansas to win, 24-17. After more consideration, I'm thinking there may be a little more scoring, but I'm going to say the Razorbacks win by a touchdown and score somewhere around 24 or 31 points. Don't get too excited, I've picked K-State to lose almost every single game this year, and was wrong every time except OU and OSU.