Archive for Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Wild Card

December 4, 2008

It’s basketball season now. All the high school football practices and playoff games are finished and the pads are put away. But what a great weekend it was for football. A few local schools played for state titles on Saturday, and the Kansas Jayhawks played in a game that will be long remembered on this side of the border.

Yes, the Border Showdown was just that — a showdown between two rival teams that played hard and clean for 60 minutes. Kansas and Missouri fans both should be proud of the effort each team gave at a cold, rainy and snowy Arrowhead Stadium Saturday.

For two years in a row the Border Showdown has been one of the best college football games of the year. Last year’s game was for the Big 12 North championship, and though this year’s game didn’t have quite as much on the line, it still had plenty for both schools.

Missouri, ranked No. 13 in the nation, already had the Big 12 North title locked up. On offense Missouri boasted one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Chase Daniel and a freakishly fast wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin. Both weapons played into Missouri’s strength, which was one of Kansas’ biggest weaknesses. Kansas hadn’t stopped the pass all year, but on Saturday Darrell Stuckey’s first-drive interception set the tone for the Kansas defense the rest of the game. It showed Kansas could stop mighty Missouri, and the game wouldn’t be a blowout MU win like many had predicted.

The KU defense gave up 211 yards on the ground and Daniel accounted for 113 of those yards. But KU held Daniel to under 300 yards passing for the game, which is quite an accomplishment. Kansas also intercepted two Daniel passes, one of them by Stuckey. And Stuckey also thwarted a long Missouri gain with a tackle, a fumble and fumble recovery. Stuckey also recorded six tackles in the game. His performance earned him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors.

As good as Stuckey’s performance was, Todd Reesing was even better. For the most part, the Kansas football team doesn’t discuss injuries. It was revealed that Reesing could barely lift his throwing arm leading up to the game. But Reesing, as he had done throughout his KU career, led Kansas via his talent and willpower to a thrilling 40-37 win over Missouri.

Reesing went 37-51 for 375 yards and four touchdowns in the game. He was named the Big 12’s Offensive Player of The Week for his gutty performance. And it was his elusiveness, football instincts and toughness that led Kansas to its come-from-behind win.

Reesing’s miraculous last-drive heroics personified what this Kansas football team was all about. It was a team that wouldn’t give up. It was a team that played better and wanted to win that football game more than Missouri did.

There was also another team — the Kansas City Chiefs — that wasn’t given much of a chance to win this weekend. But Kansas City’s 20-13 stunner over Oakland on the road showed the Chiefs — for all their faults — aren’t going to just simply play out the rest of the season and get ready for next year. The win broke Kansas City’s seven-game losing skid and gave them momentum heading into Sunday’s game against rival Denver. Denver is the team the Chiefs (2-10) beat for their first win of the year.

It would be unwise to predict that the Chiefs will beat Denver this weekend, considering Denver just whooped up on Brett Favre and the New York Jets last weekend. But, at the same time, don’t be surprised if the Chiefs play another good game and come away with a win.

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