posted on November 26, 2011 18:41
Missouri, for the most part, downplayed the importance of Saturday’s game against Kansas potentially being the last one between the 120-year rivals. But after the game, the Tigers admitted this one was perhaps a little bit special.“It’s huge. It set the record straight,” wide receiver Marcus Lucas said. “Some of those KU people think that it was tied up and now they know who’s on top. Now that we’ve got this victory, they can’t take it away from us.”
The record to which Lucas referred was the series record. Due to a 1960 Kansas win that was forfeited, Mizzou’s books had the Tigers with a 56-54-9 edge coming in. Kansas and the NCAA had the series tied at 55-55-9. Either way, after 120 games between the border foes, Missouri has now won the most.
It was Lucas who provided the backbreaker to the Jayhawks. The Liberty native, whose mother played basketball for the Tigers, caught a 53-yard touchdown pass that put Missouri ahead 24-10 one play into the fourth quarter. That was the final tally in a 24-point burst that erased a 10-0 hole dug primarily by three James Franklin interceptions.
“It was great,” he said. “I said in meetings I wanted to score against the guys and it happened. It was one of the greatest feelings I’ve had. One of my best Mizzou memories.”
For Franklin, the first half was one to forget. His first pick set up a Kansas field goal and the second was returned for a touchdown by Bradley McDougald.
“You’re a great player,” Gary Pinkel told his quarterback after a third interception in the second quarter. “You’re not the only guy that’s ever done this. So move on.”
Move on he did. The sophomore was 7-for-8 for 135 yards and two touchdowns after halftime (the first went to senior Wes Kemp and gave the Tigers a 17-10 lead).
“Have you ever seen him not shake it off?” T.J. Moe asked reporters after the game.
It was far from Missouri’s sharpest offensive performance of the season. But little was needed on that side of the ball against a Kansas team that had just 79 yards of offense entering the fourth quarter and 137 overall. In fact, on the only Kansas offensive possession that actually netted points, the Jayhawks lost a yard on three plays before a 33-yard field goal.
“Obviously, the defense played tremendously well,” Pinkel said. “The second half, we moved the ball and actually did some really good things.”
If this was the last Border War, it ended, admittedly, with a thud. An up-and-down Missouri team did not play that well, but well enough to dispatch a Kansas team that will go down as one of the worst in Big 12 history. But it’s Missouri-Kansas and any win is a big win, though the Tigers hope it isn’t the last one.
“I hope that doesn’t happen. There’s got to be a way to work it out,” Pinkel said. “It’s not really complicated, I don’t think. You can work it out if you want to.”
The question remains if the Jayhawks want to. For the time being, the Tigers will take their lead in the all-time series and the Indian War Drum that goes to the winner to the Southeastern Conference with them next year.
Pinkel said of the symbolic series trophy: “I would suggest that they’re not going to get it back anytime soon.”
Before the SEC, the Tigers will look ahead to a bowl game. It could be anywhere from the Holiday Bowl to the Pinstripe Bowl to a non-Big 12 game.
"The Big 12 has a lot to do with that," Pinkel said. "We might not be real high on their priority list right now."
Gabe DeArmond is the publisher of PowerMizzou.com, the Missouri site on the Rivals.com network. You can read his daily coverage of the Tigers online at http://missouri.rivals.com