Arkansas beat Kansas State 45-23 Saturday to win the Liberty Bowl. Here’s the breakdown:

What it means: Arkansas finishes the year 8-5, winners of six of its final seven contests. The eight wins are a game improvement from last year, as head coach Bret Bielema continues to turn the Razorbacks into consistent winners. Another strong year has already paid off in recruiting for Bielema — who scored a major recruit on Saturday — despite an 18-20 record through his first three years in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks will have some turnover next year, particularly at quarterback, but the Hogs should be considered among the rising teams in the SEC heading into next year.

What I liked: Arkansas didn’t take getting punched in the mouth too lightly. The Razorbacks had an answer for every Kansas State score, especially in the first quarter as the Wildcats got off to a strong start with 10 points on their first two drives. Arkansas responded with an Alex Collins’ 22-yard score and a Jared Cornelius 13-yard end-around for paydirt to take a lead they wouldn’t surrender. Quarterback Brandon Allen closed out his Razorback career with a 315-yard  performance that included a touchdown pass.

What I didn’t like: The Arkansas defense was susceptible to big plays, including on Winston Dimel’s 48-yard touchdown catch (his second of the game) from Kody Cook on Kansas State’s opening drive of the second half to cut the Razorback lead to 24-20. The 48-yard play was the second-longest of the season for the Wildcats, with the previous longest occurring in the first quarter of the Liberty Bowl on a 35-yard Charles Jones run.

Who’s the man: Alex Collins continues to be one of the most underrated running backs in the nation, with another 100-yard performance, the 17th time he’s accomplished the feat in his career. It’s the 10th 100-yard game this season, tying him with Darren McFadden for most in a single season. With 185 yards against Kansas State, the junior passed Ben Cowins (3,570 yards) for second all-time in program history. His 3,695 career rushing yards leave him 895 shy of Darren McFadden’s all-time Hogs’ mark. Collins’ three touchdowns also allowed him to break Bill Burnett’s program record set in 1969 for the most rushing touchdowns in a single season with 20.

Key play: Brandon Allen hit tight end Hunter Henry on third-and-13 with 12:48 remaining in the fourth quarter for a 43-yard gain and a first down. The Kansas State defense had built some momentum off a touchdown on the Wildcats’ previous drive to cut the lead to a one-score game at 31-23, but the connection with Henry was a devastating one as Alex Collins bulldozed 14 yards into the end zone on the very next play to put the Razorbacks up 38-23.

What’s next: There’s no time to rest for Bielema, who is still looking for several big chips to fall his way ahead of Feb. 3’s signing day. The Razorbacks currently have the No. 30 overall recruiting class (No. 10 SEC), but are looking to add depth on defense, particularly in the secondary.* Arkansas received a major recruiting coup prior to Liberty Bowl kick-off on Saturday, landing four-star running back Devwah Whaley.