Liberty Bowl: Kansas State Wildcats vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Kansas State Wildcats vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

Date: Jan. 2, 3:20 p.m. ET on ESPN

Location: Memphis | Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium

Kansas State Wildcats

Best moment: Down 35-28 to Iowa State and without the ball with 1:31 remaining, K-State was staring at its seventh straight loss and the end of its bowl hopes. Instead of taking a knee, the Cyclones handed off to Mike Warren. K-State defensive tackle Will Geary jarred the ball loose and Elijah Lee recovered. The Wildcats scored four plays later, seemingly sending the game to overtime. Except as Iowa State tried to rally for a final-second score, defensive end Marquel Bryant popped the ball out of quarterback Joel Lanning's hand, and Charmeachealle Moore recovered. Two plays later, Jack Cantele nailed a 42-yard field goal, giving the Wildcats the improbable 38-35 win.

Lowest moment: After taking Oklahoma State and TCU to the wire, the Wildcats had hopes they could finally get over the hump at Oklahoma, which was coming off a stunning loss to Texas. Instead, the Sooners rolled 55-0, handing the Wildcats their first shutout defeat since 1989, and Bill Snyder his second-worst loss ever at K-State.

Key player: Kody Cook does it all for the Wildcats, as the team’s top receiver and as its backup quarterback to Joe Hubener. Cook leads the Wildcats with 412 receiving yards. He was also clutch off the bench from behind center in leading K-State to a 24-23 win over West Virginia in the regular-season finale, which made the Wildcats bowl eligible. In that game, he tossed a 77-yard TD bomb and scored another TD in the first four minutes of the third quarter, which ignited the double-digit comeback.

Motivational level: At times, this has been a tough season for Snyder’s bunch. In what was always going to be a rebuilding year, the Wildcats played Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor tough, but could never get the key play at the end to produce the upset. But a three-game winning streak to end the season showed the resolve of this team. Another win, in the bowl, would give the Wildcats more momentum as they aim to jump back into the top tier of the Big 12 in 2016.

-- Jake Trotter

Arkansas Razorbacks

Best moment: There are several to choose from, but it has to be the Razorbacks’ wild 53-52 overtime win at Ole Miss on Nov. 7. The Rebels were still in control of their SEC West destiny until Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry threw a lateral 15 yards backward that Alex Collins picked up and ran for a first down on fourth-and-25. Brandon Allen’s subsequent touchdown pass and scamper for the two-point conversion gave Arkansas one of its most memorable wins in recent memory.

Lowest moment: Days after Bret Bielema popped off about the toughness of his schedule compared with Ohio State’s, the Razorbacks lost at home to MAC foe Toledo, 16-12, on Sept. 12. The Rockets proved to be a good team -- they were in the College Football Playoff top 25 twice -- but for an Arkansas team that received considerable preseason buzz and was even considered by some pundits to be a dark horse to win the SEC West, that loss was unacceptable.

Key player: Brandon Allen. What a journey it has been for the senior quarterback. Once a popular target of criticism -- even from his own fan base -- Allen finished his career in style. He led the SEC in touchdown passes (29), yards per attempt (9.08) and Total QBR (87.2). The sharpest criticism of him, even early this season, was his ability to make key plays in critical late-game situations, and he proved time and again (vs. Auburn, Ole Miss, even in the 51-50 loss to Mississippi State) that he can.

Motivation level: High. The Hogs soaked in their 31-7 beatdown of Texas in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl last year, and if they finish this season with eight wins and another bowl victory it would be another positive step forward in Bielema’s third year at the helm.

-- Sam Khan Jr.