On Saturday (2:30 P.M., FSN), the Missouri Tigers (6-5, 4-4) take on the Kansas Jayhawks (2-9, 0-8) at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, in a border showdown that marks the 120th meeting between the two rivals.
Missouri holds a 56-54-9 lead in the all-time series, although that record is disputed by the Jayhawks, who claim that the series is tied at 55-55-9.
This may be the last time that these two schools meet on the gridiron in the foreseeable future. The Tigers will begin playing in the SEC next season, and although Missouri intends to continue the rivalry, Kansas doesn't.
Kansas is seeking their first conference win. Beating Missouri would make their season. Win or lose, it's the end of the season for the Jayhawks. Kansas will be ready to play.
As Missouri left tackle Justin Britt said of Kansas earlier this week, "This is going to be their bowl game."
For the Tigers, Head Coach Gary Pinkel will be back on the Missouri sideline at Arrowhead, following a one week suspension for a DUI arrest.
Rumors swirl that Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill is on the hot seat. Earlier this week, he was asked about his future at Kansas?
"I'm here to coach them right here for the Missouri game," replied Coach Gill. "That's what I'm here to do. That's what I'm going to focus on, and continue to move forward, and continue to build a program here that's going to compete for championships in the future. So, I'm right now, focused on trying to get ready for Missouri, and win this game."
Kansas is last in the Big 12 standings, last in the Big 12 in scoring offense (23.45 points/game, #89 NCAA), last in the Big 12 in scoring defense (45.55 points/game, #120 NCAA), ninth in the Big 12 in total offense (344.09 yards/game, #95 NCAA), last in the Big 12 in total defense (531.45 yards/game, #120 NCAA), ninth in the Big 12 in rushing defense (245.27 yards/game, #118 NCAA), ninth in the Big 12 in passing defense (286.18 yards/game, #115 NCAA), and last in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense (166.38, #120 NCAA).
Kansas ranks seventh in the conference in rushing offense (168 yards/game, #46 NCAA), and seventh in the Big 12 in pass efficiency on the offensive side of the ball (133.25, #57 NCAA).
Missouri leads the Big 12 in rushing (242.18 yards/game, #11 NCAA), and the Tigers rank seventh in the conference in scoring offense (32.91 points/game, #31 NCAA), and third in scoring defense (24.73 points/game, #53 NCAA). The Tigers rank fifth in the Big 12 in total offense (483.34 yards/game, #11 NCAA), fifth in total defense (404.55 yards/game, #80 NCAA), fifth in rushing defense (141.36 yards/game, #50 NCAA), sixth in pass defense (263.18 yards/game, #99 NCAA), and fifth in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense (129.27, #63 NCAA).
"This is not about the records," said Missouri Offensive Coordinator David Yost, describing the Missouri-Kansas rivalry. "It doesn't matter what the records are. This is Missouri-Kansas! We understand that we're going to get their best game."
Offensively, Kansas utilizes multiple formations, including a variety of wildcat formations, personnel packages, and sets to get the football into the hands of their quality skill position players.
Kansas sophomore QB Jordan Webb has completed 65% of his pass attempts for 1824 yards and 13 TDs (6.99 yards/pass attempt).
He's thrown 10 interceptions on the season. His passer efficiency rating is 132.61.
The Jayhawks utilize multiple running backs, including James Sims (4.1 yards/carry), Darrian Miller (4.1 yards/carry), and Tony Pierson (6.1 yards/carry). Sims, Miller, and Pierson are also receiving threats.
Webb's favorite targets are D.J. Beshears (3.5 receptions/game, 11.2 yards/reception), former QB Kale Pick (2.9 receptions/game, 10.1 yards/reception), Tim Biere (2.7 receptions/game, 11.9 yards/reception), and JaCorey Sheperd (1.5 receptions/game, 16.8 yards/reception).
Kansas LB Steven Johnson leads the Big 12, with 114 total tackles. Safety Brad McDougald comes in with 82 total tackles. LB Darius Willis has 78 total tackles on the season, and safety Keeston Terry enters the Missouri game with 63 total tackles.
LB/DE Toben Opurum, the converted running back, leads the Jayhawks with 9.5 TFLs, and 3 sacks on the season. Opurum is a good edge rusher, and he'll line up on either side, or drop back, and his athleticism and productivity allow the Jayhawks to present multiple defensive looks.
Kansas has utilized a 3-man front, including a version of the Double Eagle defense, a four-man front, including three or four DEs, and they've also utilized various stunts, twists, and blitzes.
"I'm just focused on our team, to get better," said Coach Gill. "We've got to focus on trying to make sure that everything that we do, we've got great preparation going into this game, and execute better than Missouri. That's the bottom line,"
For Missouri, first-year starter QB James Franklin has continued to improve throughout the season, and is putting together an outstanding sophomore season. In the last four games, Missouri is 3-1, with wins over 2 ranked teams, and Franklin has completed 69% of his passes, with a passer efficiency rating of 152.68. In that four-game span, Franklin has thrown for 7TDs, 0 interceptions, and has averaged 7.59 yards/pass attempt. On the season, Franklin is averaging 304.27 yards of total offense/game, which ranks #14 nationally, and over a 13-game season projects to 3955 yards of total offense, which will rank third on Missouri's single-season list, behind Chase Daniel's junior and senior seasons.
For the second straight week, Missouri is without sophomore TB Henry Josey, the Big 12's leading ground-gainer, and will rely on Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore to shoulder the load. Of course, Franklin is a load, when he carries the football, and his 4.4 yards/carry just adds to Missouri's formidable rushing attack.
[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]
483.34 [11th]___ Total Offense___ 344.09 [95th]
242.18 [11th]___Rushing Offense__ 168.00 [46th]
26___________TDs Rushing__________ 20
241.27 [50th]___Passing Offense_ _ 176.09 [97th]
144.24 [31st]__ Passing Efficiency__ 133.25 [57th]
19___________TDs Passing__________ 15
32.91 [31st]____Scoring Offense___ 23.45 [89th]
404.55 [80th]___ Total Defense__ 531.45 [120th]
141.36 [50th]__ Rushing Defense_ 245.27 [118th]
17________ TDs Allowed Rushing________ 37
263.18 [99th]___Passing Defense_ 286.18 [115th]
129.27 [63rd]__ Pass Effic. Defense_ 166.38 [120th]
17________ TDs Allowed Passing________ 26
24.73 [53rd]____Scoring Defense__ 45.55 [120th]
+0.18 [45th]__ Turnover Margin___ -0.45 [93rd]
14 / 8_ ______ Fumbles/Lost_______24 / 10
7_________ Interceptions Thrown________ 10
10________ Interceptions Gained_________ 5
22.08 [54th]___Kickoff Return Avg._ _ 20.26 [83rd]
9.29 [48th]____ Punt Return Avg.____8.09 [63rd]
37.88 [37th]___ Net Punting Avg.___ 35.77 [78th]
2.00 [50th]_______Sacks By_____ 0.82 [117th]
1.55 [43rd]____ Sacks Allowed____ 2.55 [92nd]
29:27 [74th]___ Avg. Time of Poss.___ 31:31 [28th]
38.1% [93rd]___3rd Down Conv.__ 40.7% [63rd]
58.8% [T-32nd]__4th Down Conv._ 63.6% [T-18th]