Arkansas fans are expected to travel well to the Liberty Bowl next month in Memphis, but don't expect quite the ratio of red-to-purple as six years ago when the Razorbacks beat East Carolina.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema met for a press conference to preview the game Thursday at the Memphis Hilton Hotel. Bielema, a former K-State assistant, said he has seen first-hand how the Wildcats' fans travel to bowl games.
"When I was at Kansas State, they traveled across state lines as well as anybody ever in college football history," Bielema said.
In fact, Kansas State boasts the three largest crowds to ever cross state lines for a bowl game. The Wildcats have averaged 30,000 fans at each of their bowls under their longtime coach Snyder.
According to K-State. more than 40,000 fans have traveled to the Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.
The Razorbacks played the Wildcats in the Cotton Bowl four years ago. More than 80,000 tickets were sold to the game with the stadium split almost down the middle for a top 10 matchup won by Arkansas.
With K-State at 6-6 this season, it may not be quite 50-50 this time around. But there are some who believe the game may be the last for the 76-year-old Snyder, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this week. The potential of it being his last game may sway some to make the trip when they wouldn't otherwise.
"I have great confidence in our fans," Snyder said. "There are some amazing stories that support that, I think."
Arkansas fans packed the Liberty Bowl Stadium for an overtime win over East Carolina six years ago. An announced attendance of 62,742 was the second largest ever for a bowl game there and consisted of predominantly Razorbacks fans.
The Razorbacks have sold more than 13,000 tickets for this year's game and have secured nearly twice as many tickets than initially allocated by the bowl game. Arkansas' ticket office is guaranteeing that anyone who requests tickets by noon Friday will have their request fulfilled.
"I know we'll be able to get a lot of fans over here," Bielema said. "We were able to sell-out our last couple of home games and pay tribute to our seniors and our guys. I really think we'll get a great following over here. How it turns out numbers-wise, we'll see in the next couple of weeks."
Bielema said his knowledge of Snyder made him leery of facing the Wildcats in a bowl game. He was on the K-State staff for two bowl games - the Holiday Bowl in 2002 and Fiesta Bowl in 2003.
I've seen first-hand how he prepares for a bowl game and what he'll do," Bielema said.
The bowl game will mark the second time this season that Snyder's head coaching counterpart will be one of his former assistants. K-State lost to Oklahoma 55-0 in a game that pitted Snyder against Bob Stoops in October.
"I have the unfortunate opportunity to compete against a lot of ex-coaches and people who have been through our program," Snyder said. "I have never cherished that at any time. There is an emotion that goes along with it that you would rather be competing against somebody other than who is a part of your family."