Archive for Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jayhawks stole thunder in big football weekend

December 4, 2008

The national hype was centered around the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State football game last weekend because of its Big 12 — and possibly national championship — implications, but for my money the far more exciting game was the one between Kansas and Missouri in the Border Showdown. This is the second year in a row the local teams have turned in a dandy of a game in front of a nationally televised audience and, to some extent, spoiled their rival’s season in the process. Last year Missouri handed Kansas its only loss. This time the Jayhawks stole the Tigers’ thunder right before the Big 12 title game and likely cost MU quarterback Chase Daniel any shot at the Heisman Trophy.

The Tigers were favored to win by 16 points, but the Jayhawks never backed down and pulled the game out in the final seconds despite a steady snowfall and a noisy Missouri crowd rooting against them.

While listening to the game I had three points that gave Kansas the win. First, Kansas coach Mark Mangino outcoached MU coach Gary Pinkel. Second, Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing outplayed the highly touted Daniel. Third, the Jayhawks simply outplayed the Tigers in every facet of the game.

Missouri, however, still won the North Division and will play the mighty Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 Championship game Saturday. An Oklahoma win would probably vault the Sooners into the national championship game against either Alabama or Florida and bring in some serious bucks for the Big 12.

While Kansas fans were busy calling the local sports talk radio stations on Monday to gloat about their victory, many Texas fans also were on the line — but for a much different reason.

The Longhorns are the only team to beat Oklahoma this season, yet OU leaped ahead of Texas in the BCS standings — the tie-breaking criteria that sorted out the three-way logjam atop the South Division standings — to play for the league championship. Both OU and Texas have one loss, but the computer ratings decided that Texas’ victory over a weak Texas A&M team wasn’t as impressive as Oklahoma’s 20-point rout of No. 12-ranked Oklahoma State. The strength of schedule difference gave Oklahoma the edge.

Regardless of the outcome of the conference championship game, both Kansas and Missouri will be headed to bowl games. Missouri could earn a coveted BCS bowl berth by upsetting Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Kansas is projected to probably play Wisconsin in the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz. If the Jayhawks win their bowl game it would be a great deal for the Kansas program and for Mangino. That would give KU back-to-back bowl victories and send a serious message that the Kansas program is going in the right direction.

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