Liberty Bowl Pick

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Liberty Bowl

Kansas State

vs.

Arkansas

1/2/16

Neither of these teams looked bowl worthy halfway through the season, but both found ways to string together some wins, with the help of an easier Schedule. Arkansas’ winning streak was evidently more impressive as the Razorbacks opened as a -13 point favorite (at 5 Dimes Sportsbook) for the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

The Razorbacks started the season 2-4 with home losses to Toledo and Texas Tech and no one expected them to finish with the same 5-3 SEC record as LSU. Yet, Arkansas came through with back-to-back road wins at Ole Miss and LSU and was one point away from taking down Mississippi State to close the season with six straight wins.

Kansas State didn’t have nearly as impressive wins, which is why they are such large underdogs here. against the best teams in the Big 12, the Wildcats couldn’t do anything en route to six straight losses and a 3-6 record. They had chances to beat OK State and TCU, but didn’t have enough to close those Games out. A win over West Virginia in the final Game was KSU’s only good win on the year, although they did take down Louisiana Tech early on.

To cover this large spread, Kansas State will need to Scorebecause its defense won’t keep them in the Game. The problem is that Bill Snyder doesn’t know who to start at quarterback and still didn’t in late December. The options are regular starter Joe Hubener, who completed 47.8% of his passes, but finished with 13 TDs on the ground, and wide receiver turned QB Kody Cook, who provided a spark a couple times throughout the year, including in the West Virginia win. Cook still leaves a lot to be desired completing 18-of-42 passes, so it’s not like he’s much better than Hubener.

The Wildcats don’t have a great ground Game, led by Charles Jones (656 yards, 5 TDs), and that won’t be helped by a solid Arkansas run defense. To stay competitive with the Razorbacks, they have to be beat through the air. That means either Hubener or Cook will need a big Game.

On the other end, KSU allowed 30.3 points per Game and has one of the worst pass defenses in the country according to the numbers. They are at least mediocre defending the run, although that probably won’t matter in this Game.

Arkansas started winning Games due to a bigger focus on the ground Game as Alex Collins finished the year with 1,392 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Even if KSU stops Collins, quarterback Brandon Allen has the ability to beat the defense through the air. against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Collins threw for 13 combined touchdowns and 848 yards.

There’s basically no way Kansas State can stop this offense, and they have given up 50-plus points three different times this year. It’ll be up to the KSU passing Game if the Wildcats want to cover.

But just like in KSU’s final regular season Game, this could be Bill Snyder’s final Game with the team if he decides to retire. That’ll be some extra motivation for the players after winning the final three Games of the year to make it to a bowl Game.

However, the Wildcats are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven bowl Games, while the under has hit in seven straight bowl Games for the Razorbacks. Kansas State was 6-6 ATS this year and Arkansas was 7-5 ATS.

Our Pick – Kansas State +13