Missouri-Kansas Preview

Missouri-Kansas Preview

Published Nov. 26, 2010 11:51 p.m. ET

Missouri was hoping to take the field against its oldest rival still having a chance of winning the Big 12 North.

Unfortunately for the 15th-ranked Tigers, they no longer have a shot at playing in the conference title game when they face struggling Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday.

With Missouri (9-2, 5-2) defeating Iowa State 14-0 last Saturday and Nebraska losing to Texas A&M 9-6, the Tigers pulled into a first-place tie with the Cornhuskers and still had a chance of winning the North.

Missouri needed to have Nebraska lose to Colorado on Friday and then beat Kansas to go to the title game. The Cornhuskers, though, won 45-17 and they own the tiebreaker by virtue of a 31-17 victory over the Tigers on Oct. 30.


The Tigers are now simply trying to earn a share of the North title for the third time in four years.

Beating the Jayhawks, however, might not be that easy for Missouri, even if Kansas (3-8, 1-6) is having another disappointing season.

Last year, the Tigers defeated a Jayhawks team that won just one conference game 41-39 on a 27-yard field goal as time expired. That came one year after Kansas beat Missouri 40-37 on a 26-yard TD pass with 27 seconds left.

This will be the 119th meeting between these schools, which makes it the second-oldest FBS rivalry behind Wisconsin and Minnesota.

"It's one of the great rivalries of college football," Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said. "I've said this every year - you can throw the records out. It means so much to each team and it certainly means so much to our fans. We'll get KU's best effort and their best football game because that's what that does. Hopefully, we can prepare well and give our best also."

The Tigers weren't quite at their best at Iowa State, finishing with season lows in points and total yards (306). Blaine Gabbert threw an 11-yard TD pass to Michael Egnew in the first quarter and De'Vion Moore scored from the 1 in the fourth after the Tigers kept a drive alive with a fake punt.

Gabbert passed for 303 yards with a TD against the Jayhawks last season.

With the offense failing to generate much rhythm last weekend, the defense stepped up to record its second shutout of the season after allowing an average of 27.5 points in its previous four games. It is the first time since 1983 the Tigers have posted two shutouts in a season.

"We know sometimes our offense is going to struggle and that is going to be the time we have to step up and answer the call," cornerback Carl Gettis said.

The defense now looks to shut down a Kansas team that is 112th in the nation in scoring with an average of 18.0 points.

Excluding a 52-45 win over Colorado on Nov. 6 - when the Jayhawks rallied from 28 points down in the final 11 minutes - Kansas has been outscored by an average of 33.0 points in its six conference losses with the offense averaging 9.5.

The Jayhawks got off to a surprisingly strong start last Saturday against then-No. 12 Oklahoma State, amassing 179 first-quarter yards to take a 14-10 lead, but they managed just 109 yards the rest of the way and lost 48-14.

One more loss would mean Kansas would finish with its fewest victories since going 2-10 in 2002.

"It has definitely been one of those types of seasons," senior safety Chris Harris said.