A change in major: Traditional basketball schools take football rivalry to new level

Monday, November 19, 2007
Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin returns a kickoff 99 yards to score a touchdown during the first quarter of a college football game against Kansas State Saturday, Nov. 17, 2007 in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Missouri, Kansas will meet Saturday with their hopes for a national championship still intact.

Kansas or Missouri holds the Big 12's only hope of winning a national championship this season.

Yes, the two North Division teams known more for their basketball success. Teams that have never even won a Big 12 title in football, not until the North champion is determined by who wins their border-state rivalry game Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

"I dreamed of this opportunity when I took this job," seventh-year Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "This is fun. Are you kidding me? It doesn't get any better than this."

Kansas, which moved up to No. 2 in the AP top 25, is ranked higher than it has ever been and Missouri, which climbed to No. 3, is at its highest since the Tigers were No. 1 on Nov. 14, 1960, the last season they had 10 victories.

Mizzou fans celebrated as Missouri players left the field Saturday after a 49-32 victory over Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. The Tigers, now ranked No. 3 in the AP top 25, improved to 10-1. (CHARLIE RIEDEL ~ Associated Press)

Either Kansas (11-0, 7-0 Big 12) or Missouri (10-1, 6-1) is only two victories shy of a chance to play in the BCS championship game in New Orleans. The first victory is guaranteed for one of them.

But the spoiler could be No. 10 Oklahoma or No. 13 Texas, the South Division teams that have won national titles this decade. One of them will play in the Big 12 championship game Dec. 1 against one of the North Division surprises.

Oklahoma (9-2) got knocked out of the national championship race, and down seven spots in the AP poll, after its 34-27 loss at Texas Tech on Saturday night. Texas (9-2) was out of that picture after its first 0-2 conference start since 1956, but has since won five in a row.

The losses by Oklahoma and then-No. 2 Oregon on Thursday helped push Kansas up to No. 2, trailing only No. 1 LSU in the polls.

"We aren't done yet," said Kerry Meier, who caught a touchdown pass and threw one as a reserve quarterback in Kansas' 45-7 victory over Iowa State on Saturday. "Oregon lost the other night and it's unfolding the way we want. But like I said, we have to take care of business and take it one week and one step at a time and let it come to us."

Kansas safety Sadiq Muhammed was congratulated by teammates after an interception during Saturday's 45-7 victory over Iowa State in Lawrence, Kan. (ORLIN WAGNER ~ Associated Press)

Still, what the Jayhawks already have done is unprecedented -- and unexpected.

Kansas chancellor Robert Hemenway isn't even sure how he's supposed to react with his school among the nation's best in football instead of basketball. He found out at a meeting of the American Association of Universities how much people are noticing.

"There were some guys coming up and saying, `How does it feel to be the head of a football school? I said I'm not sure how to act," Hemenway said. "One of my friends said to me, `Let me explain -- when you score, you get six points rather than two."

Now there will be a lot more than bragging rights riding on the outcome of the 116th meeting between the schools. Never has there been so much on the line for this rivalry, which dates back to 1891.

"The great thing about that rivalry is that it doesn't matter if you're 1-10, 1-11, because if you're a Missouri Tiger, and I'm sure they'll say the same thing on their side, you don't need anything else," Pinkel said. "Playing a game like this, a big rivalry with all the stuff that's going on with it, it's going to be crazy."

A possible ticket to the national championship game won't be all that's on the line. Both Reesing and his Missouri counterpart, Chase Daniel, are gaining more and more mention in the Heisman Trophy race.

"I'm really just speechless when someone mentions that," said Reesing, who threw four touchdown passes against Iowa State and hasn't been intercepted in a school-record 205 straight throws.

Daniel was more eager than Reesing to look ahead.

"Chase Daniel came up to me and gave me a hug and said, `Coach, believe it or not, now we are allowed to start talking about Kansas,"' Pinkel said.

Missouri has won five straight games since a 41-31 loss at Oklahoma in mid-October.

Maybe there will be a rematch of that, if the Sooners can overcome their devastating loss. But Oklahoma also has to get ready for its regular season-ending rivalry game against Oklahoma State with questions about the status of quarterback Sam Bradford, who suffered a concussion in the first quarter against Texas Tech.

Texas hasn't lost since the 28-21 loss to Oklahoma the first Saturday in October, when the Longhorns were 0-2 in conference play for the first time since the year before Darrell Royal arrived.

But if the Longhorns end their regular season with a victory over instate rival Texas A&M on Friday, and Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State on Saturday, Texas wins the Big 12 South.

The losses by Oklahoma and then-No. 2 Oregon on Thursday helped push Kansas up to No. 2, trailing only No. 1 LSU in the polls.

"We aren't done yet," said Kerry Meier, who caught a touchdown pass and threw one as a reserve quarterback in Kansas' 45-7 victory over Iowa State on Saturday. "Oregon lost the other night and it's unfolding the way we want. But like I said, we have to take care of business and take it one week and one step at a time and let it come to us."

Still, what the Jayhawks already have done is unprecedented -- and unexpected.

Kansas chancellor Robert Hemenway isn't even sure how he's supposed to react with his school among the nation's best in football instead of basketball. He found out at a meeting of the American Association of Universities how much people are noticing.

"There were some guys coming up and saying, `How does it feel to be the head of a football school? I said I'm not sure how to act," Hemenway said. "One of my friends said to me, `Let me explain -- when you score, you get six points rather than two."

Now there will be a lot more than bragging rights riding on the outcome of the 116th meeting between the schools. Never has there been so much on the line for this rivalry, which dates back to 1891.

"The great thing about that rivalry is that it doesn't matter if you're 1-10, 1-11, because if you're a Missouri Tiger, and I'm sure they'll say the same thing on their side, you don't need anything else," Pinkel said. "Playing a game like this, a big rivalry with all the stuff that's going on with it, it's going to be crazy."

A possible ticket to the national championship game won't be all that's on the line. Both Reesing and his Missouri counterpart, Chase Daniel, are gaining more and more mention in the Heisman Trophy race.

"I'm really just speechless when someone mentions that," said Reesing, who threw four touchdown passes against Iowa State and hasn't been intercepted in a school-record 205 straight throws.

Daniel was more eager than Reesing to look ahead.

"Chase Daniel came up to me and gave me a hug and said, `Coach, believe it or not, now we are allowed to start talking about Kansas,"' Pinkel said.

Missouri has won five straight games since a 41-31 loss at Oklahoma in mid-October.

Maybe there will be a rematch of that, if the Sooners can overcome their devastating loss. But Oklahoma also has to get ready for its regular season-ending rivalry game against Oklahoma State with questions about the status of quarterback Sam Bradford, who suffered a concussion in the first quarter against Texas Tech.

Texas hasn't lost since the 28-21 loss to Oklahoma the first Saturday in October, when the Longhorns were 0-2 in conference play for the first time since the year before Darrell Royal arrived.

But if the Longhorns end their regular season with a victory over instate rival Texas A&M on Friday, and Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State on Saturday, Texas wins the Big 12 South.

The losses by Oklahoma and then-No. 2 Oregon on Thursday helped push Kansas up to No. 2, trailing only No. 1 LSU in the polls.

"We aren't done yet," said Kerry Meier, who caught a touchdown pass and threw one as a reserve quarterback in Kansas' 45-7 victory over Iowa State on Saturday. "Oregon lost the other night and it's unfolding the way we want. But like I said, we have to take care of business and take it one week and one step at a time and let it come to us."

Still, what the Jayhawks already have done is unprecedented -- and unexpected.

Now there will be a lot more than bragging rights riding on the outcome of the 116th meeting between the schools. Never has there been so much on the line for this rivalry, which dates back to 1891.

"The great thing about that rivalry is that it doesn't matter if you're 1-10, 1-11, because if you're a Missouri Tiger, and I'm sure they'll say the same thing on their side, you don't need anything else," Pinkel said. "Playing a game like this, a big rivalry with all the stuff that's going on with it, it's going to be crazy."

A possible ticket to the national championship game won't be all that's on the line. Both Reesing and his Missouri counterpart, Chase Daniel, are gaining more and more mention in the Heisman Trophy race.

"I'm really just speechless when someone mentions that," said Reesing, who threw four touchdown passes against Iowa State and hasn't been intercepted in a school-record 205 straight throws.

Daniel was more eager than Reesing to look ahead.

"Chase Daniel came up to me and gave me a hug and said, `Coach, believe it or not, now we are allowed to start talking about Kansas,"' Pinkel said.

Missouri has won five straight games since a 41-31 loss at Oklahoma in mid-October.

Maybe there will be a rematch of that, if the Sooners can overcome their devastating loss. But Oklahoma also has to get ready for its regular season-ending rivalry game against Oklahoma State with questions about the status of quarterback Sam Bradford, who suffered a concussion in the first quarter against Texas Tech.

Texas hasn't lost since the 28-21 loss to Oklahoma the first Saturday in October, when the Longhorns were 0-2 in conference play for the first time since the year before Darrell Royal arrived.

But if the Longhorns end their regular season with a victory over instate rival Texas A&M on Friday, and Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State on Saturday, Texas wins the Big 12 South.

The losses by Oklahoma and then-No. 2 Oregon on Thursday helped push Kansas up to No. 2, trailing only No. 1 LSU in the polls.

"We aren't done yet," said Kerry Meier, who caught a touchdown pass and threw one as a reserve quarterback in Kansas' 45-7 victory over Iowa State on Saturday. "Oregon lost the other night and it's unfolding the way we want. But like I said, we have to take care of business and take it one week and one step at a time and let it come to us."

Now there will be a lot more than bragging rights riding on the outcome of the 116th meeting between the schools. Never has there been so much on the line for this rivalry, which dates back to 1891.

"The great thing about that rivalry is that it doesn't matter if you're 1-10, 1-11, because if you're a Missouri Tiger, and I'm sure they'll say the same thing on their side, you don't need anything else," Pinkel said. "Playing a game like this, a big rivalry with all the stuff that's going on with it, it's going to be crazy."

A possible ticket to the national championship game won't be all that's on the line. Both Reesing and his Missouri counterpart, Chase Daniel, are gaining more and more mention in the Heisman Trophy race.

"I'm really just speechless when someone mentions that," said Reesing, who threw four touchdown passes against Iowa State and hasn't been intercepted in a school-record 205 straight throws.

Daniel was more eager than Reesing to look ahead.

"Chase Daniel came up to me and gave me a hug and said, `Coach, believe it or not, now we are allowed to start talking about Kansas,"' Pinkel said.

Missouri has won five straight games since a 41-31 loss at Oklahoma in mid-October.

Maybe there will be a rematch of that, if the Sooners can overcome their devastating loss. But Oklahoma also has to get ready for its regular season-ending rivalry game against Oklahoma State with questions about the status of quarterback Sam Bradford, who suffered a concussion in the first quarter against Texas Tech.

Texas hasn't lost since the 28-21 loss to Oklahoma the first Saturday in October, when the Longhorns were 0-2 in conference play for the first time since the year before Darrell Royal arrived.

But if the Longhorns end their regular season with a victory over instate rival Texas A&M on Friday, and Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State on Saturday, Texas wins the Big 12 South.

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