The real fans showed up early.
That’s what Arkansas and Kansas State fans say -- at least the ones who showed up at Cowboys Stadium as early as 10 a.m. Friday for the 2012 Cotton Bowl.
Arkansas fans began the day outnumbering the Kansas State faithful, but as time went on, more and more tailgaters wearing the K-State purple began to show, leveling the playing field.
“We’ve been waiting for this all week,” said Connie Buccholz, an Arkansas fan from Dallas.
Kristen Messick, a Kansas State fan who made the drive with her friends and family from Kansas echoed that enthusiasm.
“It’s a Friday -- we’re supposed to be at work, but we’re here, and we’re so excited," she said.
Fans seemed to be even more excited about the venue -- Cowboys Stadium.
“I think it’s awesome," Kansas State fan Jacob Wood said. "I’ve never been in there before, but from the outside, it looks like something else, something from another world."
“It looks like a flying saucer. We might take off -- you never know," Messick joked.
Not many fans seemed disappointed that the Cotton Bowl was at Cowboys Stadium instead of the Cotton Bowl Stadium in nearby Dallas.
“The old Cotton Bowl had character, but you can’t beat Jerry’s World,” Buccholz said.
Wood had a slightly different take.
“The name is Cotton Bowl, so it should be in the Cotton Bowl Stadium, but, heck, I don’t care. I’m just here to have a good time," he said.
Arkansas fan Joe Sutterfield said he preferred Cowboys Stadium, saying the experience would be one to remember with his family.
“This is my son’s first Razorback game, and to come down and see it at Cowboys Stadium -- that’s incredible," he said.