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Kansas vs. Missouri the History

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This week begins a two week stretch culminating in the Border War at Arrowhead Stadium.  While this year’s contest clearly doesn’t have the significance of last year this is in my biased estimation one of the greatest rivalries in the country.  When I say that it isn’t necessarily just from a football standpoint, you’ve got your Florida vs. Georgia’s, your Oklahoma’s vs. Texas but this rivalry is different.  This rivalry is from an all everything standpoint.  If you’ve been a part of this rivalry you know that there is tension.  Tension between the fans, tension between non fans and quite simply tension between the folks in these two states and it comes to a head when these schools face off in sporting events. 

Last year Kansas and Missouri played in the most meaningful game ever in the rivalry and this year while not as meaningful does mark another chapter and I thought it would be worthwhile to take a little look at the history between these two teams, schools and states.  First I would like to reference back to my post earlier in the year and stir the pot about the Myth of Missouri Football.   The post quite simply addresses the recent belief by Missouri fans that they have some sort of rich football tradition that puts Kansas to shame.   The reality is yes they have a solid team this year and they may be a step ahead of us in the long term building of a program, but not by much and to think differently would simply be a biased opinion.  With that myth settled and my opinion out in the open let’s look back at how it began, where it’s been and the current state.

The intense rivalry between the two universities can be traced to the open violence involving anti-slavery and pro-slavery elements that took place in the Kansas Territory and the western frontier towns of Missouri throughout the 1850s. These incidents were attempts by Missouri (a slave state) to influence whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state. The term Bleeding Kansas is often used to refer to the pre-war conflict, which continued into the Civil War and culminated with the Lawrence Massacre. SI.com supervising producer Dan George summed up the rivalry by stating "It's more than the schools -- it's a state thing going back to the Civil War, when William Quantrill's Confederate guerillas burned Lawrence and murdered nearly 200 people. Neither Missouri nor Kansas folks have forgotten it."  Those on the Missouri side are quick to point out that the Jayhawkers were guilty of the same things - crossing into Missouri, leading brutal raids and burning towns, and that Quantrill was part of a group that almost burnt down Columbia due to it being a Union stronghold.

The early athletic matches between the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri helped to aid both states in the healing process following the civil war.

Moving on to football, the tradition began with the winner of the football game receives the informally arranged Indian War Drum Traveling Trophy.

The drum trophy originated in 1937 when MU's Kansas City Alumni Association in cooperation with the Kansas University Lettermen's Association decided to present an authentic Indian tom-tom drum each Thanksgiving to the winner of the Kansas-Missouri football game. The MU Kansas City Alumni Association made arrangements for the drum to be built by Osage Indians, because they were more representative of the two states than any other tribe. The drum remained in Missouri's possession for the first few years until the trophy was briefly forgotten during war time. The tradition resumed on an annual basis in 1947, and the MU and KU circles of Omicron Delta Kappa served as caretakers of the drum throughout most of its history.

When the trophy disappeared in the 1980s, the Taos Indians of New Mexico built a new one. The original trophy was later recovered in a Read Hall basement in Columbia under a pile of boxes and it is now in the College Football Hall of Fame.

In 1999, at the urging of Kansas the drum was replaced again with a bass drum and the second drum became the property of the Missouri Alumni Association.

The Kansas and Missouri athletics and alumni associations’ logos are on opposite ends. While in Missouri the Alumni Association and Student Board now keep the trophy. While in Kansas it is now kept by the Student Alumni Association there.

Although officially the series stands with Missouri leading the series at 54-53-9 (1891–present; not played in 1918 due to an epidemic), there is an ongoing dispute about whether another win should have been counted for Kansas. In 1960, Kansas won the game, but later had to forfeit the game due to the use of an ineligible player, Bert Coan. Though Kansas counts the 1960 game as a win, Missouri, and the NCAA do not.

Through 2007, Missouri has an all-time football record of 594-503-52 (.541), with 11 bowl victories, while Kansas has an all-time record of 545-535-58 (.504), with 4 bowl victories.  Once again see:Myth of Missouri Football.  These overall records are just another indicator of the fairly equal historical success between the two teams.

The Tigers and Jayhawks first met on the gridiron on October 31st in 1891 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Jayhawks pulled out a 22-10 win in that first game.

In 1909–1910, both squads entered the game undefeated (Missouri at 6-0-1, and Kansas at 8-0). Two dropkick field goals propelled the Tigers to a 12-6 victory, an undefeated season, and a Missouri Valley title.

19 of the first 20 games were played in Kansas City, with the 1907 contest played in St. Joseph. In 1911, the game began to be played on the respective college campuses, where it would be played (with the exception of 1944 and 1945, when it was played in Kansas City, MO) for the next 94 years. The 1911 game was played in Columbia, Missouri, and alumni from MU were asked to "come home" to Rollins Field, giving rise to the tradition of homecoming. That first homecoming game resulted in a 3-3 tie between the schools.

Kansas held the early advantage in the series, with a 14-4-4 advantage from 1891 through 1922. The Tigers rebounded with a 10-5-1 record in the next 16 years, but Kansas led 5-0-1 during the next 6 years (1939–1944), holding the Tigers scoreless each year.

The Tigers controlled the series for several years through 1979, holding an advantage over Kansas of 24-8-3. During that period, Kansas only had two 2 game winning streaks, while Missouri held winning streaks of 5 games, 4 games, and 3 games (3 times).

The series has been relatively even since 1980, with Kansas holding a 14-13 edge. The last six years, 2001–2006, have seen the squads split, with both picking up 3 wins apiece. With their 36-28 victory in 2007, Missouri won the latest and possibly most memorable matchup between the two teams.

On November, 24 2007 the two teams entered the game both ranked in the top five in the nation. Kansas was ranked #2 and Missouri was ranked #4. Missouri won the game 36-28 at Arrowhead Stadium, in Kansas City, with a near-record 80,537 people in attendance; the second-highest crowd at the stadium since its opening in 1972.

Which brings us to this year and while both teams have had a somewhat disappointing result to their year, this game can salvage a lot for both fan bases.  Missouri had aspirations of a BCS Title game appearance which were put to rest with back to back losses in the middle of the season.  Kansas had goals of competing for the North title only to drop 4 of 5 in conference play pushing them out of contention going into the Thanksgiving weekend matchup.  This will not damper the hopes of the fans or the importance of the game as once again the border war is headed to Arrowhead.