2011-12 Cotton Bowl is Fine For Pickin'
2012 Cotton Bowl Complete Betting Preview

There was a time when the Cotton Bowl was the biggest thing in Texas in January before Dallas's quest for a Super Bowl. Of course, this was before Texas's most popular pro team fell into the gutter and those that run the Cotton Bowl decided to give a big fat there will be blood middle finger to the BCS.

Now, football fans have to settle for a terrific matchup between a couple of Top 10 ranked teams in the 2012 Cotton Bowl.  For football handicappers, it might not get more interesting than this game as both teams finished the regular season at 10 and 2.

Keep reading for in depth info on 2012 Cotton Bowl College Football betting action.

Cotton Bowl:  Kansas State (10-2) vs Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2)

When:  Jan. 6 at 8:00 pm EST

Where:  Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Betting Line:  Arkansas -7.5, Total 62.5   

Offense

The Arkansas Razorbacks were close to upsetting LSU in their yearly rivalry contest.  The Razorbacks offense, one of the best in the nation, took a 14 to 0 lead.  Then, LSU re-discovered who they were and dominated the Hogs to score a mind-numbing 41 to 17 victory.  LSU plays Alabama in the BCS Championship and Arkansas has to settle for the Cotton Bowl.

How good is Arkansas' offense?  The numbers are impressive.  The Razorbacks averaged 446 yards per game during the regular season.  They scored, on average, 37 points.  The passing game led the way as Arkansas racked up over 300 yards per game through the air, good enough for a 13th ranking in the nation, while the rushing game didn't disappoint with 138.2 yards per contest.  QB Tyler Wilson, although not spectacular, played well enough to pass for 3,422 yards and 22 touchdowns as opposed to 6 picks.  Wilson completed over 63% of his passes.  WR Jarius Wright caught 63 balls for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging over 16 yards per catch.

Kansas State's offense wasn't as explosive as Arkansas' during the regular season, but 343.4 yards per game is still good.  The Wildcats were somewhat more balanced on offense than most would expect as they passed for 150 yards per game and rushed for 194.  K-State's offense relied almost exclusively on the play of QB Collin Klein.  Klein led the team in passing with 1745 yards and 12 touchdowns. The signal-caller was even more important to the fortunes of K-State in the rushing attack.  Klein ran for over 1,000 yards on the season and picked up 26 touchdowns on the ground.  Without Klein, the Wildcats' offense is pretty much non-existent.   

Defense

Arkansas' defense has been impressive at moments, like when it held Tennessee to 7 points in a 41 to 7 victory, and Auburn to 14 points in a 38 to 14 win, and downright ugly at other moments, like when it gave up 38 to Alabama and 41 to LSU.  Overall, the Razorbacks' D allowed 371.4 yards per game on average and 23 points per contest.  Arkansas' biggest question on defense will be its ability to contain Klein.   The Razorbacks allowed Jordan Jefferson, LSU's rushing QB to rush for 53 yards and a TD.  Arkansas also allowed Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M's QB, to rush for 56 yards.

Kansas State's defense played similar to Arkansas' during the regular season.  The Wildcats held Missouri to 17 points in a 24 to 17 victory and Texas to 13 points in a 17 to 13 win, but then it gave up 58 to Oklahoma, 50 to Texas A&M and 52 to Oklahoma State.  The Wildcats gave up, on average, close to 400 yards and 28 points per game.    

Betting Analysis

Kansas State has a couple of issues in the Cotton Bowl, which is why 56% of football handicappers are all over the Razorbacks to cover the spread.  First, which Wildcats' D will show up?  If the defense that shut down Texas shows up, then Kansas State might have a shot, but if the Wildcats really believe that they will win this game by keeping pace with Arkansas' offense, they are sorely mistaken.

The second issue that K-State has in this matchup is whether or not Klein will be able to produce a huge game on the ground.  Klein doesn't often beat teams with his passing and it's close to impossible for him to do so against the Arkansas Razorbacks.  Therefore, Klein is going to have to have a 35 carry, 103 yard, 5 TD type performance like he had against Texas A&M in order for the Wildcats to have a shot in this one.  Sure, the Razorbacks gave up over 50 yards on the ground to Jordan Jefferson, but LSU's high-powered offense has a ton of great backs while K-State relies almost exclusively on their signal caller.

Arkansas' offense has no weaknesses. LSU's defense is mythic.  Putting up 17 points against it is a victory and the Hogs scored less than 20 only one other time during the regular season, against Alabama, so, there's no way that Kansas State's D is going to keep the Razorbacks' from the end zone.  Arkansas will roll in this game to easily cover the spread.

The bigger question from a football betting point-of-view is what will happen when it comes to the total.  Will this game go under 62.5?  At first glance, the answer appears to be no given that the over is 5 and 0 in Arkansas' last 5 games overall.  A closer look reveals that the under is a viable play, however.  The under is 8 and 0 in Arkansas' last 8 bowl games and 13 and 5 in Arkansas' last 18 games as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points.
 
I believe that there is a chance for football handicappers to hit on a sweet parlay in the 2012 Cotton Bowl.  I don't believe that Kansas State will score many points while Arkansas rolls to an easy victory.  Arkansas 38, Kansas State 17 appears very possible to me.  I'm backing the Hogs to cover and the game to go under 62.5 in what should be a great college football bowl betting game.

 
Pick:  Parlay - Arkansas -7.5 to Under 62.5