Saturday, November 24, 2007
Rock Chalk Chickenhawk, Screw KU
As a Missouri fan, it is really no big surprise to me that when Missouri football is having one of its best seasons in history, the true success of the season has to come down to a meeting with Kansas. The only real surprise is that either of these teams has actually put together a Top 5, BCS-worthy season.
Unless you're from the area or have ever lived in the area for any amount of time, its unlikely that you understand the true hatred that these two schools have for each other. The Jayhawks and Tigers trace the roots of their feud all the way back to pre-Civil War days on the Western frontier when free state Kansas warred against slave state Missouri and each side piled up atrocities against the other. Missouri was known to have burned the city of Lawrence, Kansas, while Kansas residents were no angels themselves. They were guilty of burning to the ground the town of Osceola, Missouri and in the process, killing 9 of the town's residents. This latter event inspired the Clint Eastwood film "The Outlaw Josey Wales". I'm not sure why they chose the town of Osceola instead of Columbia. Maybe they were just too lazy to make it all the way to Columbia? Let's hope that same attitude applies in today's game. Anyway, even the local businesses are cashing in on the rivalry:
Both teams are led by excellent quarterbacks that have just a bit of "little man syndrome". Both are from the state of Texas (along with about half of the collegiate football players in America) and were thought of as too small to play quarterback for Texas schools, particularly the Texas Longhorns. It's made for quite a storyline lately as both MU and KU have put together excellent seasons....the two players that were overlooked by their home state schools go on and prove the big guys wrong.
Mizzou fans love to knock the Jayhawks for their weak schedule. They really played no one of significance in their non-conference schedule and I bought into this argument for a while, but they have gone undefeated in the Big 12. The argument against this, of course, is that they didn't have to play Oklahoma or Texas, two traditional powerhouses in the Big 12. I've also noticed lately that Texas Tech has come on quite strong lately too. Texas Tech was able to knock off Oklahoma last week and guess what? KU somehow avoided a game with them too.
On the other side, KU fans will point to MU's loss to Oklahoma and the fact that Chase Daniel has thrown 9 interceptions this season to KU's Todd Reesing's 4 interceptions. But compared to the 30 touchdown passes each player has thrown, I really don't see this as much of a strong argument.
Both offenses are certainly capable of putting up big numbers. In my opinion, it will come down to two aspects of the games. One will be the defense of each team. Both have had their moments this season, and both have also had some moments to forget. Its really too difficult to pick a winner on this part. The other aspect of the game that could be the difference-maker is special teams and/or the "big-playmaker" type of player. I just don't see Kansas having an answer to Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, and with all other things being equal today, I think that he could be the difference that puts Missouri on top.
But can you really make ANY predictions in this college football season? Each week, at least one Top 5 team falls to a lesser opponent. Ohio State was on top for a while, before losing to Illinois (and I have to thank the Illini for that one!). Oregon and Oklahoma were ranked 2 and 3, respectively, last week before both of them lost to a lower opponent. And this week? Well, #1 LSU lost last yesterday to Arkansas, and obviously another Top 5 team will lose today in the MU/KU game, where KU is ranked #2 and MU is ranked #4. What does this all mean? Well, at this point, it puts West Virginia in quite a position to jump up to the top of the rankings, assuming they take care of business. And given the lunacy of this season, Ohio State still stands a good chance of making it into the BCS championship. At #5 in the current BCS poll, they are certain to move upwards after the LSU loss and either a Missouri or Kansas loss. So what does this all mean? Well, it means that I really can't make any projection myself. All I know is that it should be one heck of a game for a Missouri fan like myself. But if you're interested in what the experts seem to think: