Top Five Showdown

Kansas won a share of the Big Eight title in 1968, and Missouri did the same the following season. Since then, neither school has won even a piece of a conference crown.

Now, each of the Big 12 archrivals is not only positioned for a shot at the conference title, but also perhaps a chance for the first national championship in school history.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Kansas –1.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 51% of bets for this game have been placed on Kansas –1.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

In the 116th and most significant meeting of this rivalry, the second-ranked Jayhawks and the third-ranked Tigers square off for the Big 12 North title on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium as each team tries to keep its BCS title game hopes alive.

Neither school was ranked in the preseason poll, but Kansas and Missouri have put together two of the best campaigns in a college football season dominated by major upsets.

"It's a big game because we made it a big game," Missouri quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Chase Daniel said. "Kansas made it a big game."

Daniel has led the Tigers (10-1, 6-1) to their highest ranking since they were No. 1 on Nov. 14, 1960, the last season they had 10 victories. He has set school records with 309 completions, 3,590 passing yards and 30 touchdown passes, leading a Missouri offense that ranks sixth nationally with 42.5 points per game and fourth with 506.3 yards per contest.

Kansas (11-0, 7-0), meanwhile, is second with 45.8 points per game and seventh with 500.2 yards per game.

"This is fun," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said of the upcoming matchup. "Are you kidding me? It doesn't get any better than this."

The Jayhawks already have set a school record for wins, with as many as three possible games remaining, thanks in part to a star quarterback of their own.

Todd Reesing is tied with Daniel for third in the country with 30 TD passes - 12 more than the previous single-season school record.

"We're 11-0," Reesing said. "I feel great. It's awesome."

Reesing continued his stellar sophomore season - his first as a full-time starter - by completing 21 of 26 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in Kansas' 45-7 win over Iowa State last Saturday. He's thrown a school-record 205 consecutive passes without getting picked off.

That victory along with losses by then-No. 2 Oregon and then-No. 3 Oklahoma helped the Jayhawks jump two places to No. 2 in the AP poll - a spot that has seen more than its share of upsets. Five different second-ranked teams have lost since Oct. 6.

But that doesn't concern the Jayhawks, who are more proud about having achieved the highest ranking in school history than they are worried about a No. 2 curse.

"At this point, we're going out there every week trying to take care of business," Reesing said. "We've handled ourselves week in and week out, prepared real hard, practiced real hard. For us, we're taking it one step at a time and trying to get a win every week. This is what we've worked all year to try to do."

The Tigers' latest victory wasn't as convincing as the Jayhawks', but Daniel threw for 284 yards and four touchdowns as Missouri held on for a 49-32 win at Kansas State.

"I have the best job in America because I get to distribute the ball to these playmakers, and they're making the plays," Daniel said.

One of those playmakers is redshirt freshman Jeremy Maclin, who caught nine passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns and scored another TD on a 99-yard kickoff return in last week's win.

"It feels good - that's what all that preparation goes toward," said Maclin, who broke the NCAA freshman record for all-purpose yards and now has 2,201.

"When you do all that stuff, you can go out there and win a game, set you up for big-time games like next week against Kansas."

The Tigers dominated the Jayhawks last season as Daniel threw for 356 yards - a career-high at the time - and four scores without an interception in a 42-17 win in Columbia. Reesing was 4-for-8 for 63 yards and an interception in limited action as a freshman.

The Kansas-Missouri rivalry is the second most-played game in the FBS, trailing Minnesota-Wisconsin, which has been played 117 times including this season. The Jayhawks and Tigers have each won 53 games in the series, and they've tied nine times.

Though the rivalry is one of the oldest and most even in college football, none of the previous matchups compares to this year's.

"Everybody's going to remember the 2007 Missouri-Kansas game, I guarantee you that," Pinkel said. "Forever."

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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