Obviously this didn't pack the drama of previous Arrowhead Border Wars, and for the sake of the future of the game at Arrowhead (something I personally want to continue), I guess we should hope for more excitement in the future … but I'll always take this type of win over the alternative. Minimal drama is always encouraged.
I have an odd relationship with the Arrowhead game. First of all, I love having the game there (unlike others whose opinions I very much respect, I am completely okay with sacrificing an MU-KU home game for never having to go back to Lawrence), and when the games are close it's a great environment. But what makes my view of this game odd is that ... I've never even considered actually going to this game. For one thing, it would force us to cut our Oklahoma City Thanksgiving trips short. We usually don't head back until Sunday. But beyond that, even when we were back in Missouri, like in 2007, I never considered going. No idea why. I think I might just be beyond some of the super-intense Kansas hatred. I'm to the point where I enjoy hating Kansas and embrace it (I still chuckle at the Quantrill "scoreboard" shirt), but it more of a casual hate than an enraging one. (And I'm not saying I'm the correct one here. You want to seriously hate? Go right ahead.) I always root against them and everything, but ... I leave the Arrowhead game for those with more all-consuming hatred.
11:32 - Good morning, Steve Physioc and Dave Lapham. Sigh. I'll just keep telling myself this is the last time I have to deal with this pair (and Fox's iffy production value) for the next nine months.
Actually, that already makes me feel better.
11:33 - How dare you, Steve Physioc. "If Missouri wins today, the series will be all tied up." Um, no. We'll be up by two. Official records are official records. I know why Kansas still claims a win in 1960 ... but that doesn't mean they are correct in doing so.
11:39 - And I begin to tear into Dunkin Donuts Coffee #2 of the day. God bless you, Oklahoma City. And god bless Dunkin Donuts, Scholtzky's, Johnnie's, Grandy's, and all the other places that a) Columbia doesn't have, and b) remind me that I would weigh 65 pounds heavier if I still lived in OKC.
11:41 - Fox gives us a quick MU-KU history lesson, complete with cheesy, '80s-style graphics. It actually isn't terrible.
11:49 - Hey, get this: Mizzou won the toss and elected to receive! Go figure! I still wish we'd defer, but against an inferior team it makes sense to take the ball and try to put them behind immediately. It's great … as long as you put them behind immediately. Marcus Murphy puts together a decent return to the 30 in front of QUITE A FEW empty seats.
De'Vion Moore goes around left end for seven to start things off, then Blaine Gabbert fires off-target to Wes Kemp. Mizzou's "receive first" strategy could backfire with a quick three-and-out, but when KU blitzes on third-and-3, Gabbert finds T.J. Moe for a 16-yard catch-and-run across midfield. Gabbert keeps the ball perfectly on a zone read (there was a KU defender in the backfield immediately, but he committed to Moore) and goes for 19 yards, and Mizzou has very quickly gotten inside KU's 30. A jet sweep to Jerrell Jackson gets six, then Gabbert throws horribly off-target on a swing pass to Murphy. Lapham credits pressure, which ... I guess. I just half-cynically think he doesn't actually make the dump-off pass enough to be good at it. On third-and-4, Mizzou breaks out ... THE OOPTY-OOP FORMATION! Four receivers line up bunched to the right, and Gabbert finds
Tweeter Jerrell Jackson for an eight-yard out and an easy first down at the KU 12. Well done, Offensive Coordinator Moxon.
From there, Mizzou closes out the drive. An option to Murphy goes for no gain (he got multiple touches before Henry Josey or Kendial Lawrence saw the field), then Jackson picks up nine on the right side. Third-and-one from the 3: De'Vion Moore plows in for the touchdown! He's turning himself into quite a solid power back. 7-0, Mizzou.
Meanwhile, Miguel, my parents' yard guy, has come to blow leaves, which has meant that the parents' two dogs (a Corgi and the most awesomely ugly Westie you'll ever see) have been going ballistic for the last 15 minutes. And then that GODDAMN JOHN LYNCH COMMERCIAL sets my dog off because of the doorbells. But on the bright side: I've barely heard a word that Dave Lapham has said. I think I might prefer the barking dogs.
11:55 - Trey Barrow kicks off short, and up-man Bradley Dedeaux fields it near the 30. They're apparently attempting to avoid D.J. Beshears, and I approve. The only way Kansas will score today is with a short field, and Beshears is a solid return man. Jordan Webb starts instead of Quinn Mecham, and ... yikes. On the very first play, Aldon Smith harrasses him right into the arms of Terrell Resonno for a sack and a huge 12-yard loss. It doesn't go much better for Webb after that. James Sims gets eight yards back on second-and-forever, but Andrew Gachkar gets through on a 3rd-and-14 blitz, as does Brad Madison. Those two and Resonno converge for another sack, and Kansas will punt on 4th-and-29. Um, nice start for the defense. Carl Gettis fields the punt near KU's 40 but can't get outside. Regardless, Mizzou will start from the KU 36.
12:03 - Alright, the good news: Mizzou threw again to the running back. A welcome sight. Less welcome: the screen was set up poorly, and Tyler Patmon (really, a damn solid play-maker) blows up Henry Josey for a loss of three. Kendial Lawrence almost gets tackled for a five-yard loss on second down, but bounces around and picks up five instead. That sets up a much more manageable third-and-8, which Mizzou converts with a nice Gabbert scramble and a very nice spot. Mizzou to the 26. An awkward counter to Murphy picks up only a yard, then on second down Gabbert throws to either Egnew or Moe. They're running almost identical patterns five yards apart, and while Egnew can't quite catch up to the pass, Moe does and turns upfield for a 23-yard gain. He stepped out of bounds right before diving into the end zone.
On first-and-goal, they give the ball to Moe on a jet sweep, and he dives in for six points. He lands all sorts of awkwardly and is shaken up, but it appears he just got the wind knocked out of him. Regardless, it's 14-0 Mizzou halfway through the first quarter. Yardage: Mizzou 105, Kansas -19. Now ... no replay of the Texas Tech game. No mercy.
12:17 - Trey Barrow kicks it deep this time, but Beshears only returns to the KU 23. On the first play, Kansas runs a flea flicker ... only, it doesn't actually fool anybody because Sims played hot potato and pitched back to Webb the moment he got the ball. Daymond Patterson makes a nice defensive play to keep Kenji Jackson from intercepting the ball, and for a while it looks like that play will result in some Kansas points.
Webb finds Johnathan Wilson for 11 yards and a first down, then Sims gets the corner out of a Wildcat counter and bolts for 25 yards to the Mizzou 39. Two short plays result in a third-and-5, and Webb finds Sims for four yards under pressure. Kenji Jackson makes a nice tackle to prevent the first down, but after a timeout, Sims converts on fourth-and-1, straight up the middle behind Jeremiah Hatch. After Mizzou eats up the Wildcat on first down (Gachkar led the charge -- he had possibly his best game as a Tiger on Saturday), Kansas calls the perfect play on a Mizzou blitz. Webb dumps inside to Sims, who looks to have some running room until Will Ebner shuts him down for no gain. On third-and-11, Wilson falls down, and Webb's pass falls incomplete. Turner Gill is worked up on the sideline, as he thinks Mizzou made illegal contact on Wilson. I think I even heard a "gosh darnit" in there. Kansas trots out Jacob Branstetter for a 42-yard field goal, and Mizzou's field goal mojo continues -- he hooks it left. It might have been short too. Terrible kick. Still 14-0 Mizzou.
12:20 - Here's where Kansas' defense begins to step up. Good coverage leads to a first-down sack, and good tackling limits Michael Egnew to four yards on second down. On third-and-9, Kansas drops eight into coverage, and all of Gabbert's options are well-covered. He throws it out of bounds, and Mizzou will punt. Daymond Patterson gets a little bit of a return, but Zaviar Gooden briefly slapped the face mask. Fifteen yards. I still have no idea why they got rid of the five-yard face mask penalty. Kansas will start at Mizzou's 48.
12:23 - Patterson can't hold onto a sideline pass and gets lit up by Kenji Jackson (who also had a lovely game ... and a lovely season), and on second down, Sims makes a lovely cut-back for seven yards. KU will start the second quarter with a third-and-three.
12:25 - And Mizzou's secondary continues to set up. On third-and-3, Jerrell Harrison beautifully breaks up a pass intended for Kale Pick, and on fourth down, E.J. Gaines does the same. Mizzou ball! Kansas' receiving corps is far from amazing, but Mizzou's DBs were ridiculously good on Saturday.
12:27 - The MVP of Mizzou's third touchdown drive: Elvis Fisher. Henry Josey picks up nine yards to midfield following the turnover on downs, then goes off left tackle for another seven. He goes off left tackle again for 11 (Lapham: "Josey's no pussycat." God, I hate you so much, Dave Lapham.), then Kendial Lawrence does the same for 31 yards and a touchdown. It was so, so easy. 21-0 Mizzou.
12:32 - We're back from commercial as Fox zooms in on a lonely KU fan. Physioc chuckles about how much he probably paid for that ticket, while Lapham says he needs to get out of the sun. I'll admit it: I enjoyed that. Deshaun Sands (BOOOOOOOOOO) returns the kickoff to the 27, then Kevin Rutland gets a little too physical in breaking up a pass to Wlison; pass interference. On the next play, however, Webb rolls right and forces a terrible ball downfield. Gachkar picks it off and returns to midfield. Marvin Foster gets flagged for shoving Webb after the play. Regardless, Mizzou ball at their 35.
12:40 - Steven Johnson makes a nice break-up of a pass to T.J. Moe on first down, then Gabbert forces a bad pass downfield on second down (he did seem to turn his brain off a bit in the middle of the game). Quickly, it's third-and-10. WE GAVE UP ON THE RUN!!!!!!!1!! On third down, Mizzou lines up four wide to the right, and Gabbert finds Jackson for a strangely easy first down despite eight in coverage. I like the idea of bunching receivers like that against eight-man coverage. High potential for confusion in the secondary with so many bodies running around.
From the Kansas 47, Moore picks up two yards on first down and Egnew picks up six on second. On third-and-2, Moore is stuffed, and surprisingly Mizzou will punt. It isn't this staff's tendency to go conservative in this situation (Gabbert's pretty pissed coming off the field), but this shows how confident they are in the defense and special teams. Very quickly, the confidence is rewarded. Gachkar (who else?) easily downs a perfect Matt Grabner punt at the 1. My dad loves Matt Grabner.
12:47 - We're back from commercial, and the Fox camera lingers on a 10-year old wearing an "I <3 Boobies" shirt. Okay. Still waiting for a screen shot of this one. Webb lines up under center from the 1, and Sims gets a yard. On second down, Webb barely gets out of the end zone (Aldon Smith almost trips him); on third down, Webb fires high for Wilson, who is lit up by two Mizzou defenders and lands very awkwardly. He stays on the ground a while. Kansas punts out of their end zone, and Gettis rips off a nice return, but as with all nice Gettis returns, there was a block in the back. Mizzou will start from their 45 with 8:44 left.
12:55 - Now comes Kansas' best defensive possession of the game. Mizzou still gets quite a few yards, but they have to earn them all. After Lawrence is stopped for a loss of one, Gabbert finds Egnew, who plows ahead for 12 yards and a first down. A well-defended swing pass to Moe goes for only one yard, then Gabbert gets five on a QB draw. On third-and-4, another pass to Moe is broken up. Curiously, after punting from the Kansas 38 on fourth-and-1, Mizzou decides to go for it from the KU 37 on fourth-and-4. Gabbert fires a dart to Egnew for the first down. It worked, so ... great call! Kendial Lawrence is once again stuffed for one yard, then Gabbert swings a very poor pass to Lawrence, who makes an outstanding one-handed catch and bursts upfield for 24 yards. First-and-goal from the 3: a very predictable QB draw gets nothing. Second-and-goal: Lawrence is also stuffed up the middle. Would have preferred either more behind-center formations and more Moore (or, ahem, Franklin) here. On third-and-goal, Greg Brown picks off a predictable out route (Gabbert eyed one receiver the whole time). A simply fantastic defensive series keeps Mizzou's lead at 21 points.
1:03 - Webb finds Tim Biere for nine yards to get Kansas out of the shadow of their end zone, then Sims picks up the first down. Aldon Smith gets called for a ridiculous roughing-the-passer penalty (Webb was only halfway through his follow-through when No. 85 hit him), then the Jayhawks run a nice slip screen to Chris Omigie for another first down. E.J. Gaines covers a deep ball to Omigie perfectly, and it falls incomplete. Then, Gaines lights Sims up on a Wildcat run. On third-and-3, Webb throws behind Angus Quigley, who can't hold on. Webb is now 6-for-16. Yikes. KU punts with 1:08 left, and Gettis calls fair catch at the 17. After Jerrell Jackson is stuffed on a jet sweep, Mizzou elects to just take a 21-point lead into halftime. It could have been a bigger lead, but Kansas' defense showed some fire in the second quarter.
Obviously today's romp over an only semi-interested opponent doesn't qualify, but here are what I think are Mizzou's Top 5 wins in Kansas City.
No. 5: Mizzou 33, Kansas 12 (1945). Kansas is terrible, but the win wraps up a 5-0 conference record and a trip to face mighty Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
No. 4: Mizzou 41, Kansas 39 (2009). Mizzou bounces back from a slow start and prevents Kansas from becoming bowl eligible in Mark Mangino's final game. A dramatic finish includes Brian Coulter's sack of Todd Reesing (the final play of Reesing's career) for a safety and a last-second Grant Ressel field goal.
No. 3: Mizzou 12, Kansas 6 (1909). The 6-0-1 Tigers knock off the 8-0 Jayhawks in what might have technically been the biggest matchup (in terms of records) between the teams, at least until 2007.
No. 2: Mizzou 7, Iowa Pre-Flight 0 (1942). Discussed here. Mizzou plays ball control with the still-novel Split-T and knocks off an all-star team in an epic snowstorm.
No. 1: Mizzou 36, Kansas 28 (2007). Obviously.
1:30 - Mizzou kicks to start the second half, but it doesn't take long to get the ball back. Beshears is downed at the 24 on the return (nice coverage today), and the announcers are in full "root for the trailing team so we have an exciting game" mode. Short runs by Sims, followed by a false start, quickly bring up third-and-12, and ... Mizzou is not going to give up third-and-12 to Jordan Webb. Zone blitz, perfect coverage, etc. Webb flees the pocket and only gets a yard before Aldon Smith tracks him down. Kansas punts, and Gettis calls fair catch as epic shadows further damage Fox's already dicey production value.
1:31 - Mizzou starts at their 34, and after De'Vion Moore picks up five yards on an option left, Gabbert lobs to Egnew. WR-turned-DB-turned-WR-turned DB Bradley McDougald breaks it up. Then, as Lapham uncorked the always-ridiculous "tremendous upside potential" to describe McDougald, Gabbert throws into double coverage and McDougald picks off the pass. Hey, uh, Blaine? Get it together.
1:42 - Now comes the only scoring drive Mizzou has allowed since garbage time against Kansas State. Starting at the Mizzou 46, Jordan Webb and Kansas play with fire quite a bit but make it work. On third-and-6 from the 42, Mizzou blitzes, but Webb somehow avoids the rush and scrambles for the first down. Nice play. On third-and-8 from the Mizzou 33, Webb finds Pick right at the first down marker. On third-and-1 from the 15, Mizzou stuffs Sims, but he inches forward just enough to move the chains. On third-and-7 from the 11, Mizzou blitzes again, and Webb barely escapes again. He gets obliterated by Kenji Jackson at the 3, and Sims gets in from there on the next play. Kansas has cut the lead to 21-7 with 5:42 left, and for the only time all game, there is a bit of anxiety. It doesn't last long.
1:58 - After Murphy returns to the 26-yard line (and we go with back-to-back commercial breaks sandwiching the kickoff), Mizzou puts the game away. Moore patiently picks up six yards and a first down, then he picks up another five yards on the proceeding first down. Of course, he also almost gets his helmet ripped off ... with no flag. Odd. Gabbert forces one to Egnew on the next play, and it's almost picked.
Adding a little anger from the Moore no-call, the lead-up to the following third-and-5 play is likely the single biggest point of anxiety for me. A punt here and Kansas momentum would have gotten scary. Mizzou almost certainly would have still won, but it could have become much, much closer.
Alas, no worries. Gabbert goes over the middle to Moe (a "ball security expert" according to Lapham) for six yards. Then he goes down the left sideline to Moe, who breaks into the open and somehow doesn't tear every ligament in his knee in the process. Gain of 37, ball at the Kansas 15. Then ... a Wes Kemp sighting? Sideline pass gets six, then Moore makes another wonderful run up the middle to the KU 2. On first-and-goal, Moore gets to about the one-inch line before getting forced backwards. Eventually, the ball comes out, and on the ensuing replay review, I fully expect them to somehow call it a fumble. They get the call right, however. On second-and-goal, Gabbert runs left out of the shotgun and is crushed, landing on his head and shoulder. Sigh. I am definitely getting a bit tired of Gabbert running out of the shotgun and almost getting hurt on the goal line (brings back memories of the Nebraska game). On third down, however, they stop messing around. Double jumbo! Gabbert sneaks in for six. 28-7, Mizzou, and any fear of a Kansas comeback is officially gone.
2:05 - D.J. Beshears is hemmed in at the 25 on the following kickoff, and two runs by Deshaun Sands (BOOOOOOOO) -- one good (17 yards) and one bad (minus-2 yards, stuffed by Aldon Smith) bring the third quarter to a close.
(By the way, I hadn't quite realized just how much of a monster Aldon Smith was in this game until I typed his name about 26 times in the first three quarters of this piece. He was all over the damn place.)
2:07 - Mizzou makes short work of Kansas as the final 15 minutes begin. Webb evades a rush by Michael Sam, but when he has to evade Aldon Smith as well, Sam catches back up to him from behind. On third-and-14, Webb fires way too far for a well-covered Chris Matthews (who is now playing sports, apparently, instead of just treating politics like sports), and Mizzou punts. Gettis lets the Alonso Rojas punt roll, and it takes a couple of KU bounces. Mizzou will start at their 12.
2:09 - After an option left to Lawrence picks up three yards, Gabbert is rather clearly horse-collared on a second-down scramble. No call. It was far from malicious, and Toben Opurum let go as Gabbert was going down from behind, but it was a by-the-book definition of the penalty and should have been called, especially with a couple of the calls that went against Missouri for hitting Webb. Protect one quarterback, protect both quarterback. This, and the third-quarter face mask no call really irked me. Alas. Kansas blitzes on third down, and instead of forcing a pass, Gabbert just holds onto the ball and takes another sack. Grabner punts, and Kansas gets the ball near midfield.
2:12 - Kansas has good field position to start, but Mizzou lays waste to that very quickly. Sims is stuffed by Zaviar Gooden and Terrell Resonno on first down, then Kevin Rutland unleashes a perfect corner blitz on second. Webb never saw or heard Rutland coming and was easily hocked down as he rolled to his right. On third-and-20, Webb bombs the ball under pressure, and it is tipped and intercepted by Jarrell Harrison. By the end of his return, Harrison is limping off the field, Webb has no idea where he is, and by my count, every single flag has been thrown, along with one hat. The damage: Holding on KU, declined. Illegal block on Mizzou during the return, declined. Personal foul on Kenji Jackson, accepted. Personal foul on Jacquies Smith for "targeting" Webb on the return (he was running toward the play as if he wanted to make the tackle, and Smith crushed him). Quick math says that it should be Mizzou's ball at their minus-13 yard line.
2:19 - Okay, plus-13. Clearly more interested in eating clock than anything else, Mizzou once again goes three-and-out. Josey goes for five yards, then seven, but on the second run Moe is called for an illegal block. Steven Johnson brings Gabbert down for yet another sack, and Grabner punts again. And for good measure, Mizzou draws another personal foul on the punt.
2:25 - With Webb still woozy on the sideline, Quinn Mecham comes in for Kansas. He will not complete a single pass (to his team) over the game's final 8:20. Kansas commits their second penalty of the night on a Sims run, and after Jimmy Burge makes a nice play on a Sands (BOOOOOOOOOOO) run, and it's third-and-9 from the Mizzou 36. You do not give up third-and-9 conversions to either Webb or Mecham. Carl Gettis leaves his man and makes the pick! And more importantly: despite a nice return to midfield ... no flags!!
2:34 - Time to make it emphatic. Lawrence picks up eight yards, then gets another 12 on a counter. He picks up another nine running right and falls down before he can be pushed out of bounds. Pretty. The clock continues to tick, and Mizzou moves inside KU's 15 with another six-yarder by Lawrence. After a quick pass to Egnew for four, JOsey gets to the 5 and is pushed out of bounds. Third-and-1: Gabbert goes back under center and hands to Moore, who bursts up the middle untouched. Pretty, pretty drive. 35-7 Mizzou, 2:56 left.
2:37 - Another short kickoff is fielded at the ... um, some yard line. I can't tell because Fox is terrible. Oh, and look! Back-to-back TV timeouts again! Apparently they ended up behind on their commercial usage at some point.
2:40 - Boyz II Men and En Vogue are coming to Oklahoma City!!!!!!!!!!!! I'd have been so unbelievably excited about this in 1993. (And yes, I did in fact see Boyz II Men at the Myriad Convention Center in OKC around 1993. I am not ashamed.)
2:43 - Mecham is still in. Another sideline pass is dropped, this time by Omigie, then Quigley runs for three yards as the announcers have completely stopped trying to keep up with the game. Mizzou brings the house on third down, and James Sims drops a pass that was about to be broken up by Kenji Jackson anyway. On fourth down, Mizzou brings the house again, and Mecham throws incomplete. Hugs all around on the Mizzou sideline.
James Franklin comes in for mop-up duty. He hands to Murphy twice as Pinkel gets the Gatorade bath. (Tavon Bolden's reaction in the background is priceless.) Franklin keeps it on the final play, and that's it. Ballgame, bingo. Give us the drum for the fourth time in five years.