Follow The Money Flowing Toward Kansas In The Liberty Bowl

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It’s obvious which team is excited to be here and which team isn’t. The SEC’s Arkansas Razorbacks (6-6) meet the Big XII’s Kansas Jayhawks (6-6) in the Liberty Bowl on Wednesday at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. 

Arkansas broke out last season under then-second-year coach Sam Pittman with a 9-4 record and beat Penn State 24-10 in the Outback Bowl. The Razorbacks started the season ranked before losing three straight and falling out of the top-25 with a 3-3 record.

Kansas is making its first bowl game appearance since 2008. The Jayhawks won just two games last season and were projected to finish last in the Big XII coming into 2022.

Kansas Jayhawks QB Jalon Daniels rolls out against the Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas.
Kansas Jayhawks QB Jalon Daniels rolls out against the Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas. (Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

They started 5-0 and Kansas QB Jalon Daniels got early Heisman buzz. Then Daniels missed four games, the Jayhawks went 1-3 during that stretch and came back to earth.

That said, no one figured Kansas would make it to a bowl. Whereas Arkansas fell short of expectations and wishes it was playing a bowl game closer to New Year’s.

Betting Details (DraftKings)

  • Moneyline: KANSAS (+125), Arkansas (-145)
  • Against the spread (ATS): KANSAS +3 (-120), Arkansas -3 (+100)
  • Total — 69 — Over: -110, Under: -110

The Jayhawks have clear edge in motivation

There’s value on Kansas since it’s from the mediocre, defensively-weak Big XII. While Arkansas plays in the SEC aka the toughest conference in college football.

But, none of the Kansas players opted out of the Liberty Bowl and only two Jayhawks entered the transfer portal. Neither of which played more than 50 snaps. 

On the other hand … 

Arkansas has lost a ton of talent so far this offseason 

Razorbacks First Team All-SEC C Ricky Stromberg and LB Drew Sanders both opted to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft. As did Arkansas two-time All-SEC DL Bumper Pool.

Arkansas Razorbacks C Ricky Stromberg lines up to block the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Arkansas Razorbacks C Ricky Stromberg lines up to block the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The defensive losses for Arkansas are worsened by the fact defensive coordinator, Barry Odom, left the Razorbacks to become UNLV’s head coach. Arkansas starting TE Trey Knox entered the transfer portal as well.

Also … 

Kansas is better by the numbers 

The Jayhawks rank 39th in net EPA/play and Arkansas is 87th. Kansas has a +0.6 net yards per play (nYPP) and Arkansas has a -0.5 nYPP. Also, the Jayhawks have better third-down and red zone conversion rates. 

And lemme check you before saying, “The Razorbacks played a much tougher schedule”. Sure, Arkansas played in the vaunted SEC and Kansas is the weak ass Big XII.

However, according to both SportsReference.com and TeamRankings.com, Kansas surprisingly had the stronger strength of schedule.

Finally … 

Kansas is clearly the ‘sharp’ play 

Professional football bettors insist that offense is more predictive than defense. Well, Kansas is 12th in points per play and scores 2.2 more points per game than Arkansas who is 59th in points per play.

Kansas Jayhawks QB Jalon Daniels celebrates after defeating the Duke Blue Devils 35-27 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.
Kansas Jayhawks QB Jalon Daniels celebrates after defeating the Duke Blue Devils 35-27 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas. (Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)

Furthermore, the Razorbacks were 6.5-point favorites on the Liberty Bowl world-opener, per Pregame. The public in the consensus market is nearly split on this game but 85% of the money is on the Jayhawks.

Plus DraftKings is reporting via VSIN that more than 70% is on Kansas and roughly 60% of the bets placed are on Arkansas.

The cash column is considered the sharper side of the betting splits since professionals wager a lot more dough than you or I. Let’s follow the money and …

BET: Kansas +3 (-120) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +2

The Kansas Jayhawks' odds vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks for the Liberty Bowl from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, Dec. 27th at 8:30 p.m. ET.
The Kansas Jayhawks’ odds vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks for the Liberty Bowl from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, Dec. 27th at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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Written by Geoff Clark

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