Kansas was in trouble.
Strapped down by its fourth-string quarterback and second-string running back, the Jayhawks had to travel to Faurot Field to take on one of the Big 12's most statistically tough defenses. Although it was a rivalry game, several of the factors pointed to a probable Missouri victory. The Tigers had more to play for, a potential bowl berth on the line, an outside shot at the Big 12 title game and one of the greatest motives of all, revenge. Kansas was coming off a controversial, emotionally draining loss to Texas.
Both players stepped up and had huge performances in the last game of the season to take home a 31-14 victory in the Border War series that kept the marching band drum in Lawrence for yet another year.
"This game means a lot to the people in the state of Kansas," Mangino said. "We don't have any unusual traditions to prepare for this game. But our kids definitely get an extra bounce in their step all week."
Luke hit on 14 of his first 17 passes including 7 for 7 in the second quarter as the Jayhawks built up a 21-0 halftime lead. Luke finished the game with 239 yards passing and two touchdowns. Clark Green chipped in 118 yards rushing and another touchdown taking over
for the injured John Randle.
But perhaps the most impressive performance came from the defense. Missouri's offense sleepwalked through the first three quarters as Kansas took a 28-0 advantage. The Tigers had just 105 total yards at halftime and 155 yards through three quarters. But in the fourth quarter, two Brad Smith touchdown strikes brought Missouri within striking distance with 11:10 left to go in the half.
Just when it looked like the Tigers might have all of the momentum, Kansas grabbed a key defensive stop through David McMillan. The senior swung Brad Smith to the turf for a 12 yard loss on second down, which brought up a third down and 28. Smith scrambled out of
On Missouri's next possession, Charles Gordon snatched his NCAA-leading seventh interception on the season and returned it 23 yards. From that point, Johnny Beck put the icing on the cake with a game-sealing field goal.
While younger players such as Luke, Green and Gordon had their days in the sun, this game belonged to the seniors. Brandon Rideau caught eight catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. Lyonel Anderson had four catches for 60 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown catch. Fullback Austine Nwabuisi banged in a touchdown from close in. Gary Heaggans finished with two catches for 25 yards, including a leaping 18 yard catch that set up the Jayhawks' first touchdown. Beck kicked his only field goal attempt through. McMillan finished with five tackles, four for loss and three sacks. Greg Tyree and Tim Allen each chipped in sacks. Tony Stubbs knocked down two passes.
"This game really means a lot and to be able to score a touchdown like that," Anderson, who was recruited by both schools, said. "I had a choice to make between these two schools, I definitely think I made the right one."
The Jayhawk defense sacked Brad Smith six times and held his rushing totals to -41 yards on 13 attempts for the game.
Brandon Rideau came just two catches short of the Jayhawk all-time receiving record, while Sean Coffey's second touchdown of the game set a new Missouri record for receiving touchdowns in a season.
The victory moved Kansas to 4-7 on the year, with all but two of its losses coming by less than seven points. The two losses by more than six were to Oklahoma and Colorado. Missouri is 4-6 with one game remaining, at division-leading Iowa State.
The victory either ties up the all-time series or gives Kansas a one-game lead, depending on who you ask. Kansas defeated Missouri 23-7 in 1960, but the game was later forfeited when it was determined that Bert Coan, a member of the Kansas backfield, had accepted a plane ride to a college All-Star game from a KU alum.
In case you couldn't hear it on the radio, the Kansas fans were ringing through the stadium late in the fourth quarter. Starting with the Rock Chalk Chant and extending through chants of "Just like last year," "Just like basketball," and "Buy more players." By contrast, many Missouri fans failed to return to their seats after halftime, and many more left after Kansas closed the third quarter with a 28-0 advantage.