When you think of Kansas and its rivals, the first school that immediately comes to mind is Missouri. Not only do the two states have an intense sports rivalry, but the historical dislike between the two schools is unlike any other college rivalry. I don’t have to go through the reasons why Mizzou and the Tigers are hated, you guys know more than anyone. We can admit that the rivalry is fun though. The games were always intense and the fans got into it. There was really nothing quite like it.
Now that Missouri has bolted for the SEC, it’s left Kansas sports with a gap to fill in terms of a rivalry game. Naturally, one would assume that K-State would be the one to fill the void, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The rivalry with Missouri is irreplaceable. Does anyone really hate K-State? Sure, we’re 80 miles apart, we’re in the same conference and we have a bit of history with each other, but it’s just not there. There’s no feeling of disgust when discussing the Wildcats, there’s no hoping that doom falls upon them, there is no sense of hatred there. In fact, some KU fans don’t even mind when the Wildcats do well. I’m not saying that they cheer for them or anything, but you don’t see them cursing the sky at the possibility of a K-State win. Reverse the roles and it’s a much bigger story. Ask the folks in Manhattan about this and they’ll tell you that the rivalry is very real and that the hatred is mutual.
It’s a weird feeling when someone has hate for you and all you have is a slight indifference. Some call it the "little brother syndrome." It’s a common thing in not only college sports, but all across professional sports too. Yankee fans don’t hate the Mets, Giants fans don’t hate the A’s, and the Jayhawks don’t hate the Wildcats. This isn’t their fault though; a common denominator between those teams is that those aren’t the "big brother's" main rivalries. The Yankees have the Red Sox, the Giants have the Dodgers, and Kansas has Missouri. Now those are some blood-boiling, hatred-filled rivalries. As much as we can try to hype up this rivalry, as many times as K-State thrashes KU on the football field, as much as Manhattanites run their mouth, K-State can never replace Missouri.
Success brings hatred and the Wildcats don’t have much to brag about to the Jayhawks in that department. Let’s take away the Bill Snyder era and the overall football series shows complete dominance by KU. Heck, even if you include the Bill Snyder era, the overall football record still favors KU by a 65-41-5 record. I’m not going to say that the losses versus K-State don’t hurt, but the same can be said about losses to Texas Tech.
The main thing that K-State has to hold over us is their recent football success. They’ve had Heisman contenders and bowl games, but KU was actually the last team between the two to win a BCS bowl game. Yes, they have had some good football seasons, but it’s not enough to hold over our heads. And don’t get me started on basketball. I don’t think it’s fair to compare Wildcat basketball to Jayhawk basketball. As the great Rob Riggle once said, "Kansas is where basketball is perfected. K-State is where basketball is attempted." Kansas leads the overall series against Kansas State by 187-92.
I don’t want this to turn into a K-State bashing article, but there are really no reasons why this rivalry can jump to the next level like it did with Missouri. Unless both teams are winning, there isn’t going to be much on the line aside from pride. When was the last time KU and K-State were both good at football? What about basketball? The 2012-13 Wildcats had an impressive basketball season but they were overmatched in their head-to-head matchups versus KU.
Call it pompous, bias, whatever, but there is nothing for KU to be jealous of when comparing it with K-State. I wish there was though. The rivalry is simply lacking in Lawrence. Who doesn’t want to specifically look forward to a single game every single year? Don’t we want the weeks of talking up the match-ups, the weeks of debating the outcome with the other fans, and the weeks of anticipating a silly game? And finally, the months of bragging rights after winning. We can lose every football game, but as long as we beat Missouri, we’re happy. And the feeling is actually mutual here. Missouri hates us as much as we hate them. The excitement around Lawrence for a KU/MU game was like Christmas, and Missouri took that away. By leaving the Big 12 and ending our rivalry, Missouri took away Christmas. Now we’re here hoping that our rivalry void can be filled with the Kansas State Wildcats. I don’t think that we will ever have feeling other than annoyance for K-State, but maybe others feel differently.