Key play: Elijah Lee intercepted a pass intended for Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry on the first drive, giving K-State ideal field position.
Key stat: The Wildcats committed three false-start penalties.
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Key play: Alex Collins scored on a 13-yard run, giving Arkansas a 24-10 lead.
Key stat: Arkansas had 202 yards of total offense.
Key play: Kody Cook hit Winston Dimel for a 48-yard catch-and-run gain that pulled K-State within 24-20.
Key stat: K-State gained 121 yards of total offense.
Key play: Arkansas converted a crucial third-and-long play on a 43-yard pass to Henry. A touchdown run on the next play all but ended the game.
Key stat: The Razorbacks finished with a Liberty Bowl-record five rushing touchdowns.
K-State lacks talent at receiver, and that was never more obvious than Saturday. Deante Burton dropped two passes and his teammates struggled to get open. When they did, Kody Cook wasn’t sharp, badly misfiring on two passes that could have gone for touchdowns. Settling for field goals did them in.
Take away Elijah Lee’s interception on the first drive, and this was truly a disastrous showing. Arkansas punted just once all afternoon.
Morgan Burns scared Arkansas into kicking short and giving K-State solid field position. Matthew McCrane was also perfect on field goals. But the Wildcats surrendered big returns.
Credit Bill Snyder for getting K-State to this game and keeping it competitive, but overall the Wildcats were no match for the Razorbacks.
Player of the game
Arkansas running back Alex Collins was unstoppable, rushing for 185 yards and three touchdowns.
Reason to hope
Jesse Ertz returns at quarterback. So does Dante Barnett at safety. Both missed most of the season. Along with a young defense coming back, K-State has a nucleus to build around.
Reason to mope
K-State loses four seniors on its offensive line and is likely to turn to an inexperienced quarterback next season. There will be rebuilding to do on offense.
The Wildcats will enter the 2016 season with moderate expectations. If they can develop a new quarterback, and keep him healthy, next year could be a step in the right direction. But there is also uncertainty at several positions.
Kellis Robinett: @KellisRobinett
LIBERTY BOWL NOTES
In the red
K-State sold its full ticket allotment of 8,000 to the Liberty Bowl, and officials estimated the Wildcats had more than 10,000 fans in attendance for the game. But those numbers paled in comparison to the contingent of Arkansas fans that traveled to Memphis.
Seemingly every seat outside of the K-State section was filled with someone wearing red. There were 61,136 fans in attendance — the fourth largest crowd in the bowl’s history — and the vast majority were there to support the Razorbacks.
Arkansas used the friendly atmosphere to its advantage.
“One thing I was amazed about was the number of Arkansas fans that were here,” K-State fullback Winston Dimel said. “I was like, ‘Dang, that’s crazy.’ It was so loud.”
Burns sets record
Wildcats senior Morgan Burns returned three kicks for 91 yards Saturday, giving him enough yardage to surpass Brandon Banks for the team’s single-season kickoff-return record. Burns finished the year with 1,138 return yards. He also returned four kicks for touchdowns, earning him several All-America honors.
The Razorbacks tried several strategies to keep the ball away from Burns, including dribbling kicks to other players and pooching kicks short. The strategy gave K-State strong field position throughout the game.
Arkansas receiver Dominique Reed left the field on a cart after suffering an awkward hit Saturday. It took trainers several minutes to treat the injury and to take Reed to the locker room. It was a scary moment for everyone involved. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said he expects Reed to be fine.