With MU bolting to the SEC next season, this could be the last time KU (2-9, 0-8 Big 12) and the Tigers (6-5, 4-4) battle on the gridiron in what's been the nation's second-most played rivalry at 119 games.
And they'll also be fighting to get the upper hand with the all-time
series tied at 55-55-9.
Make no mistake, every player, every coach and every fan will remember
the last Border War between the two schools as part of the Big 12
"As a legacy, people are always going to talk about the last game
played, so I think that is what brings about a little more significance
to this game," KU coach Turner Gill said. "It is the last opportunity
to play in this type of situation, so it is very, very meaningful and
is definitely going to leave a good legacy with whoever wins this
The Jayhawks, of course, would like to end the season and the KU-MU
rivalry with a banner victory after dropping the last eight straight.
Missouri, meanwhile, would also love to knock off its bitter rival and
win its third straight game and four of its last five after becoming
bowl eligible with a 31-27 victory over Texas Tech last Saturday.
MU features the top rushing offense in the Big 12 and No. 11
nationally. However, the Tigers' top runner, sophomore tailback Henry Josey (1,168 yards), suffered an injury two weeks ago against Texas and
is out for the season. Missouri still has plenty of weapons, though,
with quarterback James Franklin ranking No. 14 nationally in total
offense with 794 yards rushing and 2,553 yards passing.
His two favorite targets are wide receiver T.J. Moe (51 catches for 629
yards) and tight end Michael Egnew (46 receptions for 467 yards).
Defensively, head coach Gary Pinkel's Tigers boast a solid defense,
which ranks No. 3 in the Big 12 with allowing just 24.7 yards per game.
MU has held three of its foes without a touchdown this season, and
limited then-No. 21 Texas to just 76 yards rushing in its 17-5 victory
on Nov. 12.
Gill knows Missouri will offer a stern challenge with Franklin
engineering the offense.
"I think the difference from last year to this year is that (Franklin)
is a little bit more of a runner," Gill said. "He is definitely going
to take off more than (former MU QB) Blaine Gabbert did last year.
Franklin has been very efficient as far as throwing the football, so
Missouri has shown they have a little bit more balanced attack. They
rush the ball really well and they also throw the ball very well."
Gill also believes KU must be prepared for MU's defense, which he said
"does a lot in terms of their fronts and their secondary."
"They have a lot of movement and in their secondary, their pre-snap
read, they will give you one look, and then post-snap read they will
give you another look, so we have to make sure we are all on track as
far as what they are trying to get accomplished," Gill said.
KU certainly didn't get much accomplished in its 61-7 loss to Texas
A&M last Saturday in College Station, the Jayhawks' worst setback
of the season. While the defeat just amplified speculation that this
could be Gill's last game at Kansas on Saturday, the coach remains
steadfast in his mission of moving the program in a positive direction.
"I expect to be here for a long time," Gill said Tuesday at his press
Gill is just focused now about the challenge at Arrowhead Stadium.
"Kansas-Missouri, I don't think there is anything else that needs to be
said," Gill said. "This has been a great rivalry since its inception in
1891 and I think we have a great opportunity to get a big win for this
program and continue to move it forward. Our players and our entire
staff are extremely excited about the opportunity to go out and perform
at a high level and try to finish this year on a good note with a
victory in this prestigious rivalry game."
For KU's 15 seniors, this will be the last time they suit up as a
Jayhawk. And senior Steven Johnson, for one, wants to go out in style.
He said he'd love to win the game for former KU coach Don Fambrough,
who died the morning of KU's season opener on Sept. 3. Fambrough was
well-known for his hatred of MU and firing the players up before the
Border War game with an impassioned speech.
"I've heard that speech maybe three times," Johnson said. "I've got it
in my head. It's a pretty famous speech about just more inch. If you're
a running back, you're running with the ball and someone's tackling
you, you just keep on going, just one more inch. If you are tackling or
blocking, you just keep on going, just one more inch. That's a speech
that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Even when things get
hard, just keep going. When you can't go anymore, just push one more
inch. This game of football is all about inches, it's all about the
little things. If you do those right, you can be successful."
Johnson and the Jayhawks hope that's the case on Saturday. And so would
the late Fambrough.
"There's a lot of inspiration," Johnson said of winning for Fambrough.
"He's a guy that put his heart and everything on the line for this
whole university and program. A guy that's been fired once or twice and
still came back and did his all, so this is going to be a big uplift
for coach Fam if we get this win. I know I'm going to go out there and
try to leave it on the line, and I'm pretty sure my teammates are going
to try the same. We're going to do everything in our power to get this
A win to give KU the edge in the all-time series. A win to remember in
what could be the last game ever played between the two schools. And a
win for lasting bragging rights in Lawrence and Jayhawk Nation.
It's all "on the line" Saturday at Arrowhead.
"This is kind of like that last battle, the whole war," Johnson said.
"It's been a long journey, and this is the game that's going to decide
it all for a while and we want to come out with a victory."
Border War Cease Fire?
Phog.net Top Stories
Big 12 Recruiting Notebook (9/29/16)News, notes and recruiting scoop out of the Big 12...
Scout FootballYesterday at 8:47 AM
Big 12 Football Roundup: Week 3 Top StoriesAll you need to know about Big 12 teams leading into Week Three of the college football season.
Big 12 Recruiting Notebook (9/15/16)News, notes and recruiting scoop out of the Big 12...
Scout's Inside Recruiting ScoopSep. 14 -- What's the latest on the top recruits in the country? Scout's basketball recruiting team -- Evan Daniels, Brian Snow and Josh Gershon -- break down the latest, including…
Bruin Report Online09/14/2016
Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 2A look at the Big 12 Power Rankings after two weeks of play