"What college football is all about"

Whether you call it the Border Showdown, the Border War or just the Missouri-Kansas rivalry, Saturday's game has more significance than most matchups between 3-7 and 4-5 teams. After both schools reached a bowl game last season, the stakes are not quite as high this time around, but the intensity certainly will be.

"This is a hugely important game. This is really what college football is all about."

Enough said? Coach Gary Pinkel said a mouthful Monday when he made that statement, but there were plenty of opinions to go around. Most of the Tigers agreed with Pinkel's assessment, for a variety of reasons. And, of course, there was an outlier in the outspoken Damien Nash.

In Lawrence, meanwhile, there is nothing left to play for but pride. At 3-7, the Jayhawks will not reach a bowl game but will be looking to make up for a missed opportunity against Texas last week.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel: "I think it's great, first of all, for college football. The relationship that Mizzou fans have toward KU fans is unique. I think this all adds to it, regardless of what sport it is."

"I'll have a record here when I leave, what my KU record's going to be, and it will be etched in granite. And every player will. Really, no other teams (mean) as much as that game. That's how big it is. It's a real important game."

"I think it's the biggest game on your schedule. I think it always is; it has to be."

Junior safety Jason Simpson: "It's a little different for KU. You have a responsibility to the alumni and all the people that have been here, the university and everybody. That's what you sign up for when you come here. You have a responsibility to win; you can't let people down like that. With all the history with this rivalry, it's a big game."

Senior tackle Scott Paffrath: "This is the Kansas game. If we were both 0-9 or 0-8, I don't think it would matter. It would still be a good game."

"I've got a lot of family coming in that has never seen me play, especially here at Faurot. It's my last game, my last chance at Kansas. (I'm) 2-2 against Kansas; I'd like to change a lot of things about it, so it's a pretty big deal to me."

Senior linebacker James Kinney: "We had high expectations put on us by everybody. I think we were deserving of that. We need to go out there and show our fans that we still are and that we can play ball. We deserve to get a victory for them, and for ourselves."

Junior quarterback Brad Smith: "The fans and everybody has a great dislike for Kansas. But as players, just competitively, we love to play against them and want to win this game."

Junior tailback Damien Nash: "It is our rival game, but I go out there to play anyway. It doesn't matter who I'm playing. I try not to listen to the hype about it. This is a game. Any game you play, you want to win. You shouldn't want to win one game more than another because of a rivalry the fans have."

"Personally, I think (the rivalry) is just for the fans. The fans just have that big hate for the other team. For me, it's another game that we have to go out there and win, and execute and beat our opponent. That's more important to me."

Kansas coach Mark Mangino: "It's a rivalry that is one of the best west of the Mississippi. Our kids are looking forward to going to Columbia and playing very, very well. It will be a big challenge for us."

"Our kids understand the rivalry and the history of it. It is the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi River and is one of the best in the country. There is an extra bounce in everybody's step around here. The game is a lot of fun."

Senior defensive end David McMillan: "Since I have been here for five years, I understand the whole Kansas/Missouri rivalry. I want to do it for everyone from Kansas. I just want to go out there and have my best game and come back with a win."

Black & Gold Illustrated Top Stories