SPECIAL THANKS BOWL HISTORY HONORS TCU GEORGIA BOWL EVENTS WELCOME JUST LAST YEAR Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Kansas State Wildcats In the 57th AutoZone Liberty Bowl, not a single cloud dotted the celestial blue January sky as a capacity crowd of 61,136 fans watched the Arkansas Razorbacks face off against the Kansas State Wildcats. The 57th AutoZone Liberty Bowl was the most watched AutoZone Liberty Bowl on ESPN ever. The matchup fit the classic narrative of an apprentice waging battle against a formidable opponent, his mentor. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, the apprentice, was a co-defensive coordinator on Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder’s staff during both the 2002 and 2003 seasons. From the moment the two teams arrived in Memphis, Bielema’s immense amount of gratitude and respect for Bill Snyder was palpable. Coach Bielema stated, “I love Coach Snyder and 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 Razorbacks came into the AutoZone Liberty Bowl red hot, winning three out of their previous four games. During that stretch, the Razorbacks became the first team ever to shut out consecutive ranked opponents, with LSU and Ole Miss suffering defeats. While the Razorback defense was truly stellar down the stretch, much of their season-long success was due to the outstanding play of junior running back Alex Collins. Behind an offensive line that could be stand-ins at Stonehenge, the Arkansas rushing attack was one to be reckoned with, and that trend continued in the 57th edition of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Kansas State came into the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on the heels of a three-game winning streak. Their final victory came in dramatic fashion against the Mountaineers of West Virginia, as 2015 Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year and First Team All-America kick returner, Morgan Burns, returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 97 yards to secure a thrilling one-point victory and a bowl berth. Senior and 2nd Team All-Big 12 performer Kody Cook was also a catalyst for success 174 | 58th AutoZone Liberty Bowl for the Wildcats. Cook saw time at both Wide Receiver and Quarterback during the 2015 season, becoming the third player in Big 12 history to have 100 yards passing, rushing and receiving in one season. After a week of events in the Bluff City, the stage was set. Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell, capped off the game’s annual pregame recognition and celebration of American patriotism with the singing of the national anthem, as a FedEx Boeing 777F pierced the azure and flew over the sell-out crowd.
2016 Liberty Bowl
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