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Gridiron Enemies: Border War

Written by Jonathan Lidskin and Logan Rosengard

Rivalry History:

The Border War Rivalry between Kansas and Missouri goes back a really long time. The rivalry did not originally start because of the schools. It started because of the states themselves. In the late 1850’s and early 1860’s, there was a dispute across the country of whether Kansas would enter the union as a free state, or a slave state. Its neighbor, Missouri, was already a slave state. Kansas entered the union as a free state and Missouri did not take too kindly to that. After the country went through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the two schools finally got around to playing some football.

The teams first met on Halloween in 1891 and are currently the fourth most played rivalry in college football. Kansas won the first meeting 22-10 in Kansas City. In 1911, the schools met as Missouri introduced the first ever “Homecoming”. The game ended in a 3-3 tie. Possibly the most famous matchup in the series was in 1960. Kansas won the game 23-7, but forfeited due to Bert Coan being ruled ineligible after the 1960 season. Missouri would go on to finish the season a perfect 11-0 and defeat Navy in the Orange Bowl.

The 1911 game was hosted by Mizzou on their first ever “Homecoming” weekend (Photo: Wikipedia)

The two teams stopped playing in 2011 after Missouri departed from the Big 12 and joined the SEC. As it currently stands, Missouri leads the all-time series 57-54-9.

Rivalry’s Best Game:

2007 was a crazy year for college football, and the border war was no exception. Going into the season, neither team were ranked in the AP poll. Both were coming off of above-average seasons, Missouri with eight wins and Kansas with six. To see both ranked in the top five for this game was insane, to say the least. Kansas held the number two ranking in the nation, and Missouri with the fourth.

The hype around this game was impossible to match. The winner would go on to the Big 12 championship as well as have a shot at the national title against top ranked LSU. Played to an almost sold out crowd at Arrowhead stadium, the atmosphere was electric. People lined the streets and the parking lots surrounding the stadium 12 hours prior to kick off. The people-traffic was so bad that it almost made the Jayhawks late to their own game. Fans from both teams lined opposite sides of the streets to exchange smack talk, bang on the team busses, and heighten the atmosphere even more as the sun began to set.

After two quarters of play the Tigers, led by QB Chase Daniel, had been shutting out the Jayhawks offense scoring two touchdowns to KU’s zero. To start the second half, Missouri continued their domination with a one yard run by Jimmy Jackson. KU’s Brandon McAnderson put the Jayhawks on the board, but Missouri ended the quarter with another touchdown to solidify the lead. Kansas wasn’t willing to give up, however, scoring three touchdowns in the final quarter of play. Despite their efforts, it wasn’t enough. Missouri managed to score another eight points to end the game, giving them the victory over Kansas. Final score: MU 36- KU 28.

Both teams went onto bowl games. The Tigers went to play in the Cotton Bowl against current SEC rival Arkansas, beating the Razorbacks 38-7. Kansas went on to play Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, beating them in a much closer game with a final score of 24-21.

Mizzou Running Back Jimmy Jackson runs into the end zone for a 1 yard touchdown in the 2007 game. Mizzou knocked off Kansas 36-28 to upset the Jayhawks in Lawrence (Photo: YouTube)

Previewing the Next Matchup:

Unfortunately, the series will not return from its hiatus until 2025. The players who will play in that game are currently sophomores in high school or younger. The good news is that the series now has 4 scheduled matchups. Kansas will get home games in 2025 and 2031, while Mizzou will get home games in 2026 and 2032. Until then, Kansas and Mizzou are both in the midst of a rebuild. Les Miles enters his second year for Kansas and Eliah Drinkwitz enters his first year as the head coach of the Tigers. By the time the 2025 game rolls around 6 seasons from now, the Jayhawks and the Tigers should both be competing at a decently high level.

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