Goal Post Payback

LAWRENCE - Banks Floodman remembers exactly where he was when he heard that the Missouri football team tore its own goalposts down following the Tigers' 36-12 win against the Jayhawks last year in Columbia, Mo.

The memory bewilders him to this day.

"It was over the radio," the junior linebacker said, shaking his head while explaining how he listened to the game at home while recovering from an early-season ACL tear. "I'm pretty sure the announcers (talked about) Missouri players rushing the goalposts, and then I found out from my teammates."

Other Jayhawks used words like "insulting" to describe the way the Tigers failed to convince their fans to tear the uprights down and then opted to pounce on the posts themselves while the dismayed Jayhawks looked on.

The spectacle is an image many of Kansas' players still don't understand and, quite frankly, many national media members didn't either, considering the Tigers were heavily favored to win the game.

The lack of cause for field-storming celebration was comparable to the ridiculousness of about 50 KU students being asked by then-coach Terry Allen to get off of the goalposts during the 2000 season after knocking off a 1-6 Colorado team. In basketball terms its similar to former 'Hawk Kirk Hinrich's displeasure with fans storming the court following KU's home victory over Texas, saying "we expected to win this game."

So perhaps wide receiver Charles Gordon summed up the Tigers' behavior best: "When we go into a game we expect to win, so I guess they didn't expect to win."

The atmosphere should be much different Saturday when Kansas (3-1) and No. 23 Missouri (4-0) square off at 11:40 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in the 112th meeting between the schools. Both teams enter the game with winning records for the first time since 1997 and both boast nationally recognized passing attacks.

The Jayhawks bring arguably the most improved offense in all of NCAA Division I this season and leads the country in passing efficiency through four games (Missouri ranks 24th) and is No. 4 in total offense (Missouri ranks 40th).

Senior quarterback Bill Whittemore is the catalyst to KU's skyrocketing offensive stats. He is second in the nation in passing efficiency and fourth in total offense. In addition, he is about two games away from topping his passing yards total of a year ago, having already thrown for 1,098 yards this season.

Whittemore's numbers are only a part of the story, however. The real credit goes to the crew surrounding him. The offensive line consisting of Adrian Jones, Bob Whitaker, Joe Vaughn, Tony Corker and Danny Lewis has actually given Whittemore enough time to throw the ball. Receivers Brandon Rideau, Charles Gordon and Mark Simmons are making catches and breaking big plays. Sophomore Clark Green and freshman John Randle have given steady production on the ground, with Green averaging more than 90 yards rushing per game.

"The quarterback gets way too much attention," Whittemore said during Tuesday's meeting wth the media. "You're talking about my stats and my numbers, but it's the people around me which are making plays.:

Missouri has its own playmaker in quarterback Brad Smith. He's ranked 24th in passing efficiency and averages almost 150 yards per game in the air. Equally dangerous on the ground, Smith runs for almost 90 yards per game and ranks 29th in the nation in total offense.

"He's a guy that you have to play smart football against - try not to give up big plays," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said of Smith. "That's where he really kills people - he can throw the ball for a big play or he can just pull it down and take off and change the whole complexion of the game."

Supporting cast is Missouri's biggest problem, so when Smith struggles the Tigers tend to crumble. They lack a game-breaker at receiver and running back Zack Abron is their only other threat offensively. Missouri's defense doesn't sparkle either, especially against the pass. The Tigers give up more than 230 yards per game in the air alone, a stat that bodes well for Whittemore.

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