Monday, December 31, 2012

What a break - Getting a Heisman Trophy winner to sign your cast

   It's no fun for any kid to be stuck in the hospital over the holidays, but this young man's stay at Scottish Rite Children's Hospital was made a little brighter Monday. Texas A&M quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel took time to sign his cast during the team's visit.
   Johnny Football autographing your cast? Now that's something to smile about!

Oklahoma Monday practice report: Sooners work out in full pads

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – The No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners held their second practice in preparation for the 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic inside Cowboys Stadium Monday afternoon.
The Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) worked out for just over two hours gearing up towards their showdown against No. 9 Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC). OU continued their typical in-season game week preparation with full speed and contact.
“Practice went really well, we did some work against each other kind of going fast,” Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops said. “This is our regular Tuesday, which we’re in full pads during the season and a little longer practice. The guys handled it really well.”
Sooner players are still getting used to the magnitude of Cowboys Stadium. An exuberant atmosphere is expected Friday night for the showdown between the Big 12 Co-Champions and the Southeastern Conference’s newest member.
“You come in and you’re just looking around it’s like: “Wow!” junior WR Kenny Stills said. “Every time I come in there I’m just as excited as the first time.”
Former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboy great Tony Casillas stopped by practice as the Sooners continued to follow their typical game-week buildup towards the Aggies.
Casillas was the Lombardi Award winner and an All-American in 1985, helping lead OU to the National Championship. He went on to win two Super Bowls with the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993. Casillas currently serves as a broadcast correspondent for Sooner Sports TV ( providing live post-practice
Monday night, the Sooners will attend a special private party at the Main Event in Grapevine. New Years Day the Sooners Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops and select players will meet with the media at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas.

Texas A&M Monday practice report: Aggies move indoors

DALLAS – With the rainy weather in the Metroplex, the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies took their New Year’s Eve practice indoors to Highland Park High School.
The Aggies got a surprise to start practice with current Los Angles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who was completing a workout at the place where he starred in high school, on hand to greet the team. The Dallas native turned down a scholarship to play baseball at Texas A&M in 2006 when the Dodgers selected him as the seventh overall pick in the MLB Draft.
With the pleasantries aside, A&M got to work with an exuberant, 90-minute practice that head coach Kevin Sumlin called a traditional “Tuesday” practice at the same facility used by the Green Bay Packers for Super Bowl XLV.
“We were able to get focused here today,” said Sumlin. “It’s a great practice facility here at Highland Park; appreciate Coach (Randy) Allen letting us come over here today. Our guys were focused and there was a lot of energy today.”
Sumlin said his team is going to need all the energy it can muster to defeat the Co-Big 12 Conference Champions and No. 11-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12).
“They’re a solid football team. They have great skill on the outside with an experienced player in Kenny Stills and have a big, strong offensive line as usual. Defensively, their strength is their secondary with a lot of great athletes back there.”
Following practice, the Aggies took their focus away from the field for a special visit to meet and greet patients and their families at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. Monday night, the team was scheduled to enjoy the final day of 2012 with a private team event at Main Event in Lewisville.
Texas A&M gets back to work on New Year’s Day with a second practice at Highland Park. Earlier in the morning, the Aggies’ offensive players, along with Sumlin, will have their interview session with the media at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving. Attending for A&M will be juniors OT Luke Joeckel and RB Ben Malena, redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel and seniors WR Uzoma Nwachukwu and WR Ryan Swope. Sumlin will be subbing for former offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who departed the team to become the head coach at Texas Tech.

Back where it all began for OU's Landry Jones

   Cowboys Stadium is where Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones began his college career and Friday is where he will end it.
   Back in 2009, Jones relieved an injured Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford. Now he will be playing against one in Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel.
   Jones chuckled when told that Manziel, a redshirt freshman, recalled watching Jones play for the Sooners while he was still in high school.
   "I'm the old man around this place," Jones said. "It feels like it."
   Jones was a redshirt freshman himself when he subbed in for Bradford back on Sept. 5, 2009 when he subbed in for Bradford, who had suffered a shoulder injury. That game was the first regular season contest at the newly opened stadium - before even the Dallas Cowboys had played an official home game there.
   Jones couldn't keep the Sooners from avoiding a 14-13 upset to BYU that day. But the next season he quarterbacked Oklahoma to a 23-20 win over Nebraska at Cowboys Stadium in the 2010 Big 12 Championship.
   "It did start here," Jones said. "There's always good feelings on this field, and just remembering how your career started and where you came from. It's exciting to be back here and we're excited to play."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Where's the Beef? It's at Lawry's

Oklahoma players indulged in some mouth-watering prime rib on Sunday night as part of the annual Lawry's Beef Bowl, a staple of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic festivities.

While players can eat as much prime rib as they want, in recent years they've been discouraged from over-doing it by their coaches - it makes practice go smoother the next day when their stomachs aren't swelled up! Still, there's always a few players who amaze everyone by how much beef they can inhale.

Texas A&M players will get the Beef Bowl treatment on Tuesday night.

After the Beef Bowl, both teams were treated to the Dallas Mavericks game against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Center.

Texas A&M Sunday Practice Report

Dallas – The No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies got back to football basics for their first practice for the 77th AT&T
Cotton Bowl Classic.
Under brisk outdoor conditions, the Aggies donned full pads for a nearly 60-minute workout on the practice
field adjacent to Ford Stadium on the SMU campus. The spirit of the 12th Man was in full force as a swarm of Texas A&M fans welcomed the squad prior to its first workout in preparation to take on the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12 Conference).
“I thought we had great energy at practice. With all the fans and spectators that were here, I was kind of shocked at the number of people that were here. I thought that created some energy for us too,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “We bounced around and weren’t out here very long but that’s kind of the way we’ve done things up to this point.”
The practice was a return of sorts as Ford Stadium was the site of the team’s first win of the 2012 season, a 48-3 victory over SMU. That win sparked a five-game winning streak before a 24-19 loss to LSU on Oct.20.
A&M rebounded from that defeat to go another five-game winning streak to close the season.
Two former Aggies players, Rod Harris and Ken Reeves, were among those watching the A&M workout. Harris was an All-Southwest Conference performer who starred for A&M in 1985-89 and Reeves played in College Station from 1981-84. The team capped off practice in celebratory fashion with happy birthday wishes and a Gatorade bath for defensive coordinator Mark Snyder.
Snyder, junior DE Damontre Moore and seniors DL Spencer Nealy, LB Sean Porter, LB Jonathan Stewart and DB Steven Terrell will conduct an interview session with the media Monday morning at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving. A&M is back on the practice field later in the day with a traditional “Tuesday” practice session at Highland Park High School in nearby University Park.

Oklahoma Sunday Practice Report

Arlington, Texas – The 11th ranked Oklahoma Sooners began their AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic preparations at Cowboys Stadium today as they looked ahead to a matchup with the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies.
Spirited music filled the air as the Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) held a two-hour practice in shorts and shoulder pads.
Earlier in the day, Head Coach Bob Stoops and select players met with the media to talk about the upcoming matchup with the Aggies and getting back into the groove after the holiday break.
“I feel good in that we have healed up a little bit from some of the sprained ankles and some of the injuries we’d had through the year that we’ve kind of managed and worked through,” Stoops said.
Texas A&M will bring Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel into the Classic, but OU will counter with their own decorated leader in senior QB Landry Jones. Jones returns to the site of his first game action, when he took over for an injured Sam Bradford against BYU in 2009.
“Landry has been a very steady and excellent football player for us for four years. He’s been through a lot of games and a lot of challenges,” Stoops said. “Down the stretch for us he’s been fabulous.”
The Sooners finished the season with a five-game winning streak, claiming a share of their eighth Big 12 Championship. Over that streak, Jones has thrown for 1,980 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Eatin' and Greetin' - AT&T Cotton Bowl style

More pictures from Saturday night's Welcome Dinner. At times it was hard to figure out which line was longer: the one for the buffet  - or the one to have pictures taken with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the Super Bowl Trophy.

Members of the Kilgore Rangerettes drill team were also on hand to usher the guests into Cowboys Stadium.

QBs captured on canvas

Part of the fun of Saturday night's welcome dinner was watching speed painter Dan Dunn craft portraits of OU quarterback Landry Jones and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Dunn painted - from start to finish - the portraits and another of the stadium while the teams ate.

Which one do you think turned out better?

Festivities begin with the annual Welcome Dinner at Cowboys Stadium

Pictured above is the Texas A&M team filing into the dining area for the annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Welcome Dinner on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium. The teams were treated to a gourmet buffet and entertainment, then moved to the 50 yard line to watch videos of their seasons on the stadium's gigantic video screen.

Not a bad way to kick off the week!

Hey! Check those press passes!

Apparently, some of the questions at Sunday's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Media Day were getting a little tedious, so a couple of the players took over the microphones. Oklahoma defensive back Tony Jefferson conducted a groundbreaking interview with receiver Kenny Stills, while Texas A&M defensive lineman Spencer Nealy grills head coach Kevin Sumlin. (photos by Ian Halperin/CBAA)

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Modern Family" still backs the Cats

We will say goodbye from the 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic with a final, parting tweet from "Modern Family" star Eric Stonestreet:

"Great season Kansas State FB team. Thank you for all your hard work. Way to represent our GREAT university. Until next…"

Hogs hoist the trophy

Interception seals it

On fourth-and-16, Collin Klein's desperation heave was picked off by Arkansas' Jerico Nelson, who returned it 61 yards to the Kansas State 14.

There were only 5 seconds left after the interception, so Tyler Wilson takes a knee and the Razorbacks take home 29-16 win.

Arkansas adds to its lead

Arkansas has stretched its lead to 29-16 with 3:30 left in the game.

The Razorbacks took 3:06 off the clock with a seven-play, 61-yard drive. Zach Hocker booted his third field goal, a 30-yarder, to finish the drive.

Attendance tonight: 80,956

Your 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl attendance tonight is 80,956.

That's slightly less than last year's game between LSU and Texas A&M which drew 83,514. Two years ago, in the first game in the new stadium, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State drew 77,928.

The final game in the old Cotton Bowl Stadium between Texas Tech and Ole Miss drew a whopping 88,175.

K-State rally falls short

Kansas State is in real trouble now after giving up the ball with 6:36 left and trailing 26-16.

Collin Klein commanded a promising drive into Arkansas territory, but it stalled at the 26. On fourth-and-eight, kicker Anthony Cantele's 43-yard field goal attempt went wide right.

Arkansas takes 26-16 lead into fourth quarter

We've played three quarters here and Arkansas has maintained its lead, 26-16.

Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson is 16 of 26 passing for 163 yards and has made some big throws.

The Hogs are driving as we begin the fourth quarter with 2nd-and-14 at their own 33.

The Hogs are back in business

After watching Kansas State reel off 16 straight points, Arkansas finally answered with a nine-play, 58-yard drive.

Tyler Wilson capped the drive with a 9-yard TD pass to Cobi Hamilton running across the middle of the end zone. The TD came on third-and-goal.

It's 26-16 Arkansas with 3:57 left in the third quarter.

Cats strike first in the second half

Talk about halftime adjustments - Kansas State took the second-half kickoff and marched 60 yards in seven plays to pull within 19-16 of Arkansas.

QB Collin Klein scored from six yards out on a draw play up the middle. After the TD, Klein was seen getting his left wrist/hand looked at by the training staff. He appears to have a cut on his hand. As tough as Klein is, it's doubtful he will miss a play.

Defenses dominant in the first half

OK, so it's not Baylor and Washington in the Alamo Bowl. But Arkansas and Kansas State are putting on an entertaining AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic despite some rather modest offensive numbers.

Kansas State has just 60 yards and five first downs. Arkansas, which holds a 19-9 lead at the break, has 155 yards and only four first downs.

Kansas State has punted six times, Arkansas two times. Kansas State is just 2 of 8 on third downs and Arkansas is only 3 of 9. Both teams have fumbled and lost the ball once.

Thankfully, we haven't had a ton of penalties. Kansas State has been penalized four times for 23 yards, Arkansas two times for 18 yards.

You've got to think these coaching staffs will make adjustments and we will see more offensive fireworks in the second half.

Arkansas returns the favor with a turnover

After Arkansas capitalized on a turnover, K-State did the same.

Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson fumbled while being tackled by Adam Davis. The Wildcats recovered at the 13 but with no timeouts and only 1:06 left in the half.

No matter. After an Arkansas timeout, K-State quarterback Collin Klein rolled to his right then threw back to his left to a wide-open Andre McDonald in the end zone.

Our score at halftime is Arkansas 19, Kansas State 9.

Blocked PAT return a first in AT&T Cotton Bowl history

Kansas State's Nigel Malone put himself in the record books when he picked up a loose ball after a blocked extra point kick and returned it for two points.

Teammate Raphael Guidry blocked the PAT try, but only after Arkansas scored on a 45-yard pass from Tyler Wilson to Jarius Wright.

Oh, and we had our first Eric Stonestreet appearance on the big video screen - he was cheering the PAT return from a suite here in Cowboys Stadium.

The Razorbacks lead, 19-2, with 4:10 to play in the half.

Joe Adams' punt return gives Hogs 10-0 lead

A 51-yard punt return by Joe Adams has given Arkansas a 10-0 lead with 14:27 left in the second quarter.

Kansas State was backed up to its 4 yard line when it punted. Adams fielded the kick near his own sideline, then raced across to the Kansas State sideline before zooming upfield untouched.

Arkansas strikes first, 3-0

The first quarter was a punting contest until Arkansas came up with the first big break of the game. Razorbacks DE Jake Bequette forced a fumble at the Kansas State 13 yard line.

Four plays later, Zach Hocker kicked a 26-yard field goal and the Razorbacks had a 3-0 lead with 4:19 left in the first quarter.

Live stats available on the AT&T Cotton Bowl web site

Keeping up with the game? How about some live stats to go along with your viewing?

Check out the live stats page available on

We have kicked off!

This is a shot of the opening kickoff of the 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. Arkansas returned the kick 31 yards to the Kansas State 42.

It is a packed house with red- and purple-clad fans stacked to the rafters. Great atmosphere!

We've had the anthem

The Band Perry performed the anthem while a huge USA flag was unfurled that covered the entire field.

The teams have run out of the tunnels. All we're waiting for is the coin flip and then we'll have the kickoff to the 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
The Band Perry

Looking for "Cam" in the crowd

"Modern Family" star Eric Stonestreet, aka Cam, is a huge Kansas State fan. He's here at the AT&T Cotton Bowl tonight, somewhere in Cowboys Stadium.

He just posted a clue as to his location on his Twitter feed @ericstonestreet

What they're saying about the AT&T Cotton Bowl today

Veteran Texas sportswriter Nick Gholson offers his thoughts on the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram profiles Kansas State RB John Hubert. says the Cotton Bowl is a clash of styles.

Sports Network has a lengthy game preview.

Arkansas News talks about the Razorbacks' chances of equaling the school record for wins.

The Salina Journal has K-State covered in its Cotton Bowl notebook. analyzes the matchups.

The Kansas City Star details K-State's stadium expansion plans. has a neat slideshow of previous KSU visits to the Cotton Bowl.'s George Schroeder breaks it all down in a game preview.

Newest members of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame revealed at Big Play Luncheon

A stellar group of inductees to the AT&T Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame was revealed Thursday at the Big Play Luncheon.

The group includes: USC offensive lineman Tony Boselli, Texas linebacker Tom Campbell, Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie, Notre Dame (and Arkansas) coach Lou Holtz, Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray and Arkansas defensive tackle Jim Williams.

The group will be inducted during enshrinement ceremonies April 19 at Cowboys Stadium.

Wildcats spread some cheer at Scottish Rite Hospital

Before heading to the annual Big Play Luncheon, Kansas State players made a visit to Scottish Rite Hospital to bring some Wildcat spirit to the patients there. You can read about it here.

K-State fans occupy Rangers Ballpark

You know you've got a big fan following when you need a major league baseball stadium to host your pep rally!

Kansas State fans took over Rangers Ballpark In Arlington on Thursday for a huge purple pep rally. Check out the picture below tweeted by's D. Scott Fritchen (@DScottFritchen).

Don't worry, Arkansas fans. I'm sure we will hear you calling the hogs all over Arlington today.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rangerettes recognized

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic VP of Communications Charlie Fiss presents Kilgore Rangerette Bethany Ford with a commemorative watch after the Rangerettes' rehearsal on Thursday at Cowboys Stadium.

Each year in a special ceremony, sophomore Rangerettes are given watches by the Cotton Bowl in appreciation for their service to the bowl.

The Rangerettes have performed at Cotton Bowl pregame and halftime festivities for more than 60 years. The AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be televised at 7 p.m. CT Friday, Jan. 6 on Fox.

 Photo by Ian Halperin, CBAA

Big Play luncheon today; K-State visits children's hospital

All the official media sessions are over and practices are closed, but you can still catch the players and coaches today at the Big Play Luncheon, the annual good-time affair on the eve of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

Before the luncheon, Kansas State players will visit with young patients at Scottish Rite Hospital, another Cotton Bowl tradition.

Earlier this week, Arkansas players visited Children's Medical Center to brighten a few faces. There's a great photo gallery of the visit on

What they're saying about the AT&T Cotton Bowl

The Kansas City Star says K-State is comfortable if the game comes down to kicks

Arkansas Sports reports the coaches also feel special teams could be critical

The Topeka Captial-Journal says the game is part of the ongoing Big 12-SEC debate

The KC Star has all the Cotton Bowl Buzz

The Arkansas News says both quarterbacks have a toughness factor

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Arkansas Wednesday practice report

ARLINGTON, TX -- The No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks continued to work closer to their matchup with the No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats in the 76th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic with a fourth practice at Cowboys Stadium Wednesday morning.

Head coach Bobby Petrino commented in his news conference prior to the team’s practice that the Razorbacks have enjoyed a great week preparing to play in a game with such great history and tradition as the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

“It’s been a tremendous experience for our football team and our families with a first-class organization. Everything we have done and all of the hospitality has been amazing,” said Petrino. “I’m proud of our football team. They’ve worked extremely hard to get here. We’re really looking forward to the matchup on Friday night. I think it’s going to be a great game. Whenever you can play the sixth-place team in the country against the eighth-place team in the country, I think it’s really exciting and I know our players and coaches are excited for the game to get here.”

This year’s Classic could cap a highly successful season for Arkansas, as a win over Kansas State would give the Razorbacks their first 11-win season since 1977. That season Arkansas finished with an 11-1 record and as No. 2 in the nation on the strength of a 31-6 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 1978.

Before the Razorbacks put to a close on the 2011 season, the team will enjoy another social outing, again at American Airlines Center, to see the defending National Basketball Association champion Dallas Mavericks take on the Phoenix Suns. Arkansas’ final practice Thursday afternoon is CLOSED to the media and public.

Kansas State Wednesday Practice Report

ARLINGTON, TX – Players and coaches for the No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats stressed continuing the hardnosed style of preparation that propelled them to the 76th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

Today was no different as the Wildcats practiced at Cowboys Stadium for the fourth consecutive afternoon. The Wildcats held a two hour workout as they look towards matching up against a high-profile SEC squad in the No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks.

“They’re a determined group and have the “never give up” type of attitude and approach to each ballgame that they play,” Head Coach Bill Snyder said. “I love the determination that they possess. I also greatly appreciate their willingness to do things that a lot of people in this day and age don’t like to do and don’t want to do.”

That hard work and attention to detail has translated to a team that isn’t flashy, but takes care of the little things. KSU got to ten wins and a No. 6 BCS Ranking with just the fifth-ranked defense and the ninth-ranked offense in the Big 12 yet held the distinction of being the least penalized team in the Big 12.

“That’s why Coach Snyder is great,” DE Jordan Voelker said. “Each player has their weaknesses and he utilizes our strengths the best and moves us to the position we fit.”

It’s no surprise then that in year two of his second stint at K-State that Coach Snyder was the recipient of both the Woody Hayes National Coach of the Year and the Big 12 Coach of the Year awards. A win on Friday would propel Kansas State to their first 11-win season since back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2002 and 2003.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Arkansas Tuesday practice report

ARLINGTON -- The third day of the New Year saw the No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks go through their third practice on the Cowboys Stadium turf for the 76th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

Taking over his first game as the Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator after seven seasons at Ohio State, Paul Haynes said he has been pleased with how the players have responded to him after taking the position in early December as the team tries to bring home its fourth Field Scovell Trophy in 12 Classic appearances.

“I have really appreciated them and how they have welcomed me into the family,” said Haynes. “It’s been an easy transition. The things I have asked them to do, they do it. They’ve been very supportive.”
“It’s been a great transition. I stay busy because there’s been something every single day and that’s kind of been the fun part for me to get to know these guys.”

Haynes added that he feels the defense has worked with great focus in its three practices so far.

“The venue we are going to play in and the venue we have been practicing in, Cowboys Stadium, has been
awesome,” said Haynes. “Our guys prepare well and I expected that from guys like this. The preparation has been good. The guys are focused; the guys are ready. We’re early (in our practice week). You’re always kind of worried about them getting up (for the game) but once we’ve stepped on that field, it’s been all focus and good practices.”

Haynes and five defensive starters – seniors DE Jake Bequette, LB Jerry Franklin, S/LB Jerico Nelson and S Tramain Thomas and junior DE Tenarius Wright -- stepped off the practice field Tuesday afternoon for the Razorbacks’ news conference at the media headquarters hotel while the remainder of the team took time away from its bowl preparations to visit Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

Tonight, the entire team will enjoy some National Hockey League action as the Dallas Stars face the Detroit Red Wings at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. The Razorbacks get back to work Wednesday morning for another practice session at Cowboys Stadium following the final official AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic news conference featuring the two head coaches, Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino and Kansas State’s Bill Snyder.

The 76th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic is Friday, Jan. 6 on FOX. The telecast starts at 7 p.m., with kickoff scheduled for 7:32 p.m. Gus Johnson will handle the play-by-play duties with Charles Davis as the color analyst. Tim Brewster and former Dallas Cowboys great Daryl Johnston will serve as sideline reporter.

Kansas State Tuesday practice report

ARLINGTON – Execution was the theme of the day as the No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats worked on finalizing their AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic game plan during the Cats third practice at Cowboys Stadium. The Wildcats practiced foralmost three hours today, going full speed in pads.

Looming at the end of the week is a top-ten showdown against No. 6 Arkansas. The Wildcat players are beginning to lock in to their ultimate goal of a Classic championship through an intense, physical practice.

“We’re human and we make mistakes but we’re trying to get those ironed out before the ballgame,” OL B.J. Finney said. “Everybody is energized and ready to go and ready for the game. That has carried into practice.”

Much of the Wildcats (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) success can be credited to their QB Collin Klein, who was named a First Team All-Big 12 performer. Klein comes into the Classic accounting for a phenomenal 69% of KSU’s offense (1,745 yards, 1,099 yards rushing).

The Loveland, Colo. product says he’s rested after a rough season that saw him take a number of physical hits in Big 12 play. Klein and the rest of the offense are looking forward to Friday’s matchup against a physical Arkansas (10-2, 6-2 SEC) defense.

“It’s just a matter of us as players being able to execute better than Arkansas does for four quarters and hopefullycome away with a win,” Klein said.

Wildcats offensive players were the focus earlier in the day at the media hotel, as co-offensive coordinators Del Miller and Dana Dimel, as well as Finney, OL Clyde Aufner, WR Chris Harper, RB John Hubert and Klein; spoke with reporters for an hour.

Tonight the team will attend a special Beef Bowl party at Lawry’s in Dallas. Tomorrow morning both Head Coach Bill Snyder and Arkansas Head Coach Bobby Petrino will meet the media to discuss the week and the upcoming battle.

The 76th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be held on Friday Jan. 6th on FOX. Telecast starts at 7 p.m. with kickoff scheduled for 7:32 p.m. Gus Johnson will handle play-by-play duties with Charles Davis as the color analyst. Tim Brewster and former Dallas Cowboys great Daryl Johnston will serve as sideline reporters.

What they're saying about the AT&T Cotton Bowl's David Ubben says the Cotton Bowl just keeps growing.

The Sports Network offers a primer about the game.

The Wichita Eagle/Kansas City Star says K-State is already looking for Collin Klein's successor. makes the case that the Cotton Bowl is better than a BCS bowl this year. says the Hogs will look to move the ball through the air.

Arkansas News details the Razorbacks' habit of slow starts to games.

The Kansas City Star describes how d-coordinator Chris Cosh turned around the K-State defense.

Klein time

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein met with the media this morning during the K-State offensive session.

Klein's teammates nicknamed him "The Honeybadger" but he certainly sounded more sweet than vicious this morning.

"I couldn't have predicted this season and I won't try to predict anything that might happen in the future," Klein said. "It would be an exercise in futility. But I'm just very fortunate to have been able to contribute and help K-State be successful."

 Photo by James D. Smith

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bowling and beef

Part of the AT&T Cotton Bowl experience every year for the players are trips to the Main Event entertainment center and the Lawry's Beef Bowl.

Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg said the Main Event party has been the highlight of his trip so far. He said the Arkansas trainers dominated in bowling, but he's not sure if teammate Greg Childs should be allowed to drive the Go-Karts again.

"He's not one of the best drivers, I would say," Gragg said with a grin.

Arkansas' turn at the Beef Bowl was Monday night. The chance to have all-you-can-eat prime rib might be a little too tempting for some players.

"I know our head strength and conditioning coach, Coach (Jason) Veltkamp, he's going to be watching those linemen to make sure they're not too heavy for practice tomorrow," Gragg said.

Media sessions at the Mandalay

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic players and coaches participate in daily media sessions during the week at the bowl's media headquarters, the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas.

Monday morning's first session was the Kansas State defense, with select players and coordinator Chris Cosh. After lunch, it was the Arkansas offense's turn with coordinator Paul Petrino and players.

On Tuesday, it will be the Kansas State offense and the Arkansas defense, and then Wednesday the two head coaches will have a final media session together at the Omni Mandalay.

 Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson looks comfortable in the pocket with a group of reporters blitzing him.

Kansas State linebacker Emmanuel Lamur is in focus.

Cowboys Stadium-sized welcome kicks off AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Week

If the rest of AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Week is anything like the start, we're in for huge week.

The Arkansas and Kansas State teams were welcomed on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium with a giant dinner buffet in one of end zone plazas. Artist Dan Dunn provided entertainment while the teams dined, whipping out huge portraits of the mascots of both teams and a single portrait representing Friday's on-field clash.

The Kilgore Rangerettes served as escorts and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were on hand to pose for pictures with the Super Bowl and Cotton Bowl trophies.

After a few welcoming comments from AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic chairman Tommy Bain, the teams headed to the 50 yard line to watch highlight films of their seasons on the colossal Cowboys Stadium video screen. It was a big way to kick off a big week for both teams.