MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — It ultimately didn't matter much who Kansas State started at quarterback in the Liberty Bowl. The defense's inability to slow down Arkansas would have doomed the Wildcats no matter who ran their offense.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — It ultimately didn't matter much who Kansas State started at quarterback in the Liberty Bowl.
The defense's inability to slow down Arkansas would have doomed the Wildcats no matter who ran their offense.
Alex Collins ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns and Arkansas capped its late-season surge with a 45-23 victory over Kansas State on Saturday to snap the Wildcats' three-game winning streak.
"Give credit to (Arkansas)," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "They came out and played their game. They didn't do anything that we hadn't looked at or hadn't seen offensively or defensively. They just did it extremely well."
Kansas State (6-7) finished a season below .500 for the first time since Snyder began his second stint as coach in 2009.
Snyder added some intrigue to this game by making a quarterback switch.
Kody Cook started at quarterback for the first time in his career Saturday. Cook was Kansas State's second-leading receiver during the regular season while also backing up quarterback Joe Hubener.
Snyder said Cook had earned the starting assignment with his practice performance.
"You're not really as intense (at quarterback) because you try to stay focused," Cook said. "But other than that, a lot of it is the same. You've got to go out and compete and have the same attitude we have in every game."
Cook went 12 of 24 for 163 yards and threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Winston Dimel, who also had a 10-yard touchdown run. Cook improved his accuracy in the second half and seemed intent on continuing Kansas State's late-season penchant for comebacks.
Kansas State had erased a 21-point deficit against Iowa State and had come from behind to beat West Virginia during its winning streak, but it couldn't complete the comeback this time. Collins wouldn't allow it.
Collins had touchdown runs of 22 yards and 13 yards in the first 17 minutes. His total of three touchdown runs tied a Liberty Bowl record. He also had a 68-yard kickoff return that set up Jared Cornelius' 13-yard touchdown on an end around.
"The kid is unbelievable," Arkansas offensive guard Sebastian Tretola said. "He runs angry. He runs mad. The legs never stop."
Kansas State trailed 31-23 late in the third quarter and appeared ready to make a stop when Arkansas knocked out the Wildcats with a one-two punch.
Facing third-and-13, Arkansas' Brandon Allen found All-America tight end Hunter Henry down the left sideline for a 43-yard completion. On the next play, Collins spun away from a couple of defenders, eluded the grasp of a third and dragged a couple more into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown with 12:04 remaining.
Kansas State wouldn't threaten again in a matchup that pitted two friends against each other. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema worked as an assistant coach on Snyder's Kansas State staff from 2002-03. When Arkansas was struggling early this season, Bielema even sought Snyder for advice.
"I love Coach Snyder," Bielema said. "I love everything about him. A lot of the things in our program are things I learned from him. I'm very blessed to be in this position."
The game had a scary moment late in the second quarter when Arkansas' Dominique Reed was carted off the field on a stretcher. Reed lay on the ground for several minutes after making a 15-yard reception. Replays appeared to show him taking a blow to the side of the head at the end of the play. Reed was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons, but Bielema said the junior receiver was in the locker room after the game.
"He's got a heck of a headache probably, but he's alive and well, walking, talking," Bielema said.
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