On Saturday afternoon (2:30 P.M., ABC) at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO, the Kansas Jayhawks (5-6, 1-6) take on the Missouri Tigers (7-4, 3-4) in the 118th meeting of these border rivals. In keeping with the spirit of this ancient rivalry, the two schools don't agree on the all-time series record. This week's KU press release has Kansas with a 55-53-9 edge in the series, while Missouri reports that the series is tied all-time, at 54-54-9.
Mark Mangino, Kansas' apparently lame-duck Head Coach, talked about this year's contest, and it's bearing on his team's season. "It's a big game for both teams every year........... Our players are looking forward to the challenge........... It's an opportunity to become bowl eligible............. This senior class deserves an opportunity to go to a bowl game............. Three consecutive bowls is unprecedented here at the University of Kansas.......... Particularly, I feel for our seniors. I want them to have that opportunity. I think they deserve it! We met yesterday, and practiced a little bit. And, I'll tell you, the entire team is really focused in on this game, including the senior class. I just hear them talk about wanting to go to a third consecutive bowl, something that's never been done here before."
Preseason expectations were high for this Kansas team, primarily because of the return of third-year starting QB, Todd Reesing, KU's career record holder in nearly every passing and total offensive category, and owner of the top three single seasons in most significant categories as well, including passing yards, completions, percentage, etc..
Reesing is joined by one of the top receiving duos in the country in Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe. Meier is tied with Missouri's Danario Alexander for the conference lead (3rd in NCAA) in receptions, with 92, and ranks 5th in the conference in receiving yards (931) and receiving TDs (6). Briscoe ranks 4th in the conference in receptions (70) and receiving TDs (7), and 3rd in the conference (7th in NCAA) in receiving yards (1095).
Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel talked about Meier, noting that it seems that he (Meier) has been at Kansas for about as long as Pinkel has been at Missouri.
Kansas' leading tackler is current back-up LB Drew Dudley (81), closely followed by a trio of defensive backs, CB Chris Harris (78), SS Darrell Stuckey (78), and S Justin Thornton (70). Missouri fans are familiar with Stuckey (KU's active career leader in tackles  and interceptions ) from last year's game, and St. Joseph, MO native, Thornton. DE Jake Laptad leads the team with 6.5 sacks, followed by DE Jeff Wheeler (5.5), and DE Maxwell Onyegbule (5). True freshman LB Huldon Tharp took over a starting position during the season, as has LB Arist Wright.
This Kansas team has been in the spotlight all season, as all 12 of their games this season have been on TV. This will mark Kansas' 5th appearance this season on ABC.
A statistical comparison:
[NCAA Rankings in Brackets]
404.82 [45th]___ Total Offense___ 411.09 [38th]
121.45 [92nd]___Rushing Offense__ 117.82 [94th]
12___________TDs Rushing__________ 19
283.36 [16th]___Passing Offense__ 293.27 [11th]
141.48 [29th]__ Passing Efficiency__ 131.96 [52nd]
24___________TDs Passing___________ 18
29.36 [45th]____Scoring Offense____ 28.55 [50th]
340.82 [43rd]___ Total Defense___ 367.82 [65th]
100.73 [15th]__ Rushing Defense__ 128.09 [42nd]
12________ TDs Allowed Rushing________ 20
240.09 [89th]___Passing Defense__ 239.73 [88th]
127.19 [58th]__ Pass Effic. Defense__ 130.14 [69th]
15________ TDs Allowed Passing________ 16
23.27 [46th]____Scoring Defense___ 27.27 [80th]
+0.27 [43rd]__ Turnover Margin___ -0.27 [76th]
16 / 6_ ______ Fumbles/Lost_______18 / 10
9_________ Interceptions Thrown_________ 9
7_________ Interceptions Gained_________ 7
19.37 [104th]__Kickoff Return Avg._ 22.22 [T-51st]
9.83 [50th]____ Punt Return Avg.____7.26 [83rd]
39.52 [7th]____ Net Punting Avg.___ 34.92 [73rd]
2.45 [33rd]_______Sacks By______2.73 [18th]
1.36 [T-31st]____ Sacks Allowed____ 2.73 [100th]
28:18 [100th]__ Avg. Time of Poss.___ 30:54 [33rd]
36.9% [82nd]___3rd Down Conv.__ 41.9% [43rd]
55.6% [40th]___4th Down Conv.___ 73.3% [6th]