ARLINGTON -- As we drove down Randol Mill Road past Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to Cowboys Stadium on a perfect sunny afternoon, I could not help but wonder how last year's Super Bowl XLV scene would have played out had it been graced with this 'Chamber of Commerce' weather. That was then and this is now, with the now being the 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic between the No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks and No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats.
The 76th Cotton Bowl week began with the teams' arrivals last Saturday and included a Cowboys Stadium Welcome Party complete with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the Lawry's Beef Bowl, Media Days, and the Big Play Luncheon. Arkansas visited the Children's Medical Center while Kansas State visited the Scottish Rite Hospital. Players from both teams attended the Mavs-Suns game that attracted attention for the presence of Kim Kardashian. And yes, there was a football game to be played on Friday evening in front of a sold-out crowd of 80,956.
We arrived shortly before 4:00 p.m. for the 7:30 kickoff. With the temperature hovering around 70, the tailgating action was in full force. The stadium's West Plaza was full of Razorbacks fans enjoying Emerald City performing for the thousands already on hand. Kansas State fans filled the East Plaza as Ben and Skin from 103.3 ESPN Radio were on hand to "Grow the Show."
I chatted with a few fans from each side who were visiting the sports world's version of the Taj Mahal for their first time. A fan from Kansas State compared her initial Cowboys Stadium experience to the "awe she experienced in her first visit to the Bellagio in Las Vegas."
Several Arkansas fans were quick to point out that the Razorbacks were undefeated in Arlington and had a better home field advantage than the Dallas Cowboys. Arkansas plays Texas A&M in the Southwest Classic held annually the past three years at Cowboys Stadium.
Arkansas kept its winning streak alive by outlasting Kansas State 29-16 to win the Cotton Bowl. The Razorbacks' only losses this season came against No. 1 LSU (13-0) and No. 2 Alabama (11-1), the participants in Monday's BCS National Championship Game. Confetti instantly covered the area where the Hogs were presented with the Cotton Bowl trophy and the electricity in the building had the atmosphere of a BCS game -- without all of the empty seats.
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