By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
One year after staging a game of national championship importance, the 2008 Border Showdown at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium meant something only to the two teams involved. And when it was over, Kansas had reason to celebrate.
Missouri came into the game having clinched the Big 12 North Division. Kansas carried a 6-5 overall and 3-4 league record. In 2007 in the same venue, the Tigers had one loss and the Jayhawks were undefeated. Mizzou vaulted from No. 4 to No. 1 and earned a spot in the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship with its victory.
Avenging that loss made the Jayhawks' 40-37 victory special. As did the manner in which it occurred.
Junior quarterback Todd Reesing scrambled away from the Missouri pass rush and passed to Kerry Meier for a 26-yard touchdown with 27 seconds remaining that gave Kansas a 40-37 victory.
"You've got to feel people on your backside and you have to move around in the pocket," said Reesing, who finished 37-for-51 for 375 yards and four touchdowns. "Sometimes it's luck, the offensive line did a great job of creating a pocket and they bought enough time for us to make a play. Without that blocking, that play doesn't happen."
In a game played in wintry conditions, the teams scored 41 points in the final 23 minutes and traded the lead four times in the fourth quarter.
Missouri senior quarterback Chase Daniel finished with 391 total yards and had four touchdown passes. But he also threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked for a safety in the second quarter.
The Tigers trailed 26-10 early in the second half before Daniel threw three of his TD passes to rally Missouri a 30-26 lead with 6:52 remaining. Reesing answered with an 8-yard scoring pass to Meier to give KU a 33-30 edge.
Missouri countered with a 73-yard, seven play drive capped by Derrick Washington's 3-yard touchdown run to take a 37-33 lead with 1:50 remaining.
That turned out to be more than enough time for the Jayhawks to drive for the winning score.
Missouri, though, had one more chance. The Tigers got in position for Jeff Wolfert the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, to attempt a 54-yard field goal. Kansas partially blocked the kick.
"We got in a position where I could make that kick," Wolfert said. "I made the right contact. They just got a hand in there, someone was at the right place at the right time and was able to make the deflection."
For Kansas, that final effort was enough to earn high praise from coach Mark Mangino.
"Our injury list, a roll of toilet paper wouldn't be enough," he said. "We've got guys that played today that could barely walk a week ago. It's the gutsiest performance I've ever been associated with as a coach. Our kids heard all week long we didn't have a chance. Never tell KU they don't have a chance."