Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Border War: post-mortem

- This was rivalry week in college football as the regular season ended for most schools and with many playing their biggest rival--Alabama and Auburn, Mississippi and Mississippi State, Florida and Florida State, Clemson and South Carolina, BYU and Utah, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, Houston and Rice, Virginia Tech and Virginia and Georgia and Georgia Tech.

Our local rivalry is different--Kansas and Missouri...Missouri and Kansas. No, no in-state rivalries here--here are two states, and rivals, who don't care much for each other.

The Border War. Historical roots dating back to the Civil War. And, a rivalry where the two sides can't even agree on the win-loss total over the 118 games which have been played. Yesterday's Missouri win means that the series record is Kansas 55, Missouri 54 with nine ties. Or, if you're Missouri, it means Missouri 55, Kansas 54 with nine ties. At least the schools can agree on the tie games.

Is there currently a better college football rivalry in America, if the criteria is exciting close games coupled with a history of two schools with evenly matched records? The last three years at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, have provided three games with a total margin of 13 points. And, yesterday's clash offered up the following equality:

- A two point Missouri win decided on a last-second field goal.
- 25 first downs apiece.
- 553 total yards of offense for Mizzou; 547 total yards of offense for KU.
- Time of possession--30:07 for MU and 29:53 for KU...14 total seconds of difference!

Yesterday's game was a microcosm of the series between these two schools--a series separated by one game and by a grand total of 73 points over the 118 times these schools have played. (If you're trying to calculate that, it's .618 points difference per game--MU over KU--over the history of this rivalry.)

Ohio State and Michigan (57-43-6 Michigan), the other non in-state rivalry game, gets the majority of the national attention for marquee college football rivalries. But, over time, there's not been a better rivalry than that of KU and MU. And, over the past three years, it's consistently been one of the very best college games of the year.

- One would be hard-pressed to find a more impressive outing by three college receivers than what we saw yesterday from Danario Alexander of Missouri and Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier of Kansas. Alexander had his fourth 200+ yard day--15 catches for 233 yards and one TD. Briscoe led the nation in receiving yards yesterday with 252 on 14 catches with two TDs. And, Meier finished his career as the all-time receptions leader for KU--he had 10 catches for 54 yards against MU with two touchdowns. Briscoe's day, of course, was bittersweet in that his two fumbles led to two touchdowns by Missouri.

- Much has been written, and rightly so, about this senior class of Kansas--a group who brought the program into prominence with two bowl game victories, including a BCS Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech in 2008. The four key leaders--Meier, Todd Reesing, Darrell Stuckey and Jake Sharp--all finished their careers with good days yesterday. Reesing passed for a career high 498 yards on 37-55 accuracy, three touchdowns plus a rushing TD. Stuckey was all over the field on defense and also returned several kicks. And, Sharp, hampered by injuries throughout the season, had 107 yards of total offense yesterday. It's how these guys have conducted themselves and what they have done away from the field, though, which has endeared them to Kansas and college football fans--Stuckey is up for the NCAA's Senior Class award, given to a senior who excels on the field and off--in the classroom and the community; Meier was the highly recruited high school QB who, with nary a complaint, moved to wide receiver after losing his starting role to Reesing and has also been Academic All Big 12; Sharp was the fast, yet undersized back from Salina whose work ethic was consistently lauded by his coaches; and Reesing became the emotional leader of this team--a tough, short, cerebral talent (another Academic All Big 12) who's leaving Kansas as the best statistical QB in the school's history. This foursome will be missed.

- The KU-MU game is staying at Arrowhead Stadium through, at least, 2012. Given the drama, crowd size and electricity of this event in Kansas City, it's hard to see this moving back to the respective campuses anytime soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment