Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Border War

As you probably know, on August 21, 1863, a band of Bushwackers led by William Clark Quantrill sacked and burned the town of Lawrence, Kansas. What you probably don't know was that shortly thereafter a group of Jayhawkers traveled to Columbia, Missouri. They left the town standing, a horrific act of revenge that has since been condemned by international tribunals.

Things have been somewhat calmer over the last twelve dozen years, but there is still considerable animosity between the citizens of Lawrence and Columbia, particularly during football and basketball games between the University of Kansas and the University of Misery. These days they call it the “Border War” (now politically correctly called the “Border Showdown”). Actually, when I went to KU it didn't really have a name. We just knew that the only reason to go to Missouri was to see the Royals, and to visit bars that served something other than 3.2% beer. Otherwise, these two schools plain don't like each other.

It's also either the oldest continuous college rivalry west of the Mississippi, or the oldest Division I rivalry west of the Mississippi, I'm not sure which. We've been doing this for 116 years. If your schools have been doing it longer, leave a note below.

And come Saturday is the biggest game in the history of the KU-MU rivalry. Ever. With KU at 11-0 and ranked number 2 in the BCS, and Missouri 10-1 and ranked number 4, the winner of this game gets to play either Oklahoma or Texas for the Big 12 championship on December 1. If they win that, they will almost certainly (KU for sure, MU probably) play for the National Championship on January 7 in New Orleans. (Probably against LSU. What's this about a neutral site?)

Anyway, though KU has had quite a bit of success in basketball, the KU-MU game has never had National Title implications. This game does.

I don't want to get too emotionally involved in all this. I've had a few sports disappointments in my life, not counting the time we lost to Natoma in the Regional Basketball quarter-final. This KU team is a surprise and a pleasure, and a loss will not diminish what they've done.

But a win Saturday, and next Saturday, and then the long wait until January ... Hmm. I'm supposed to go to New Orleans in March, maybe I can show up a few months early. Got a spare room, cousin Ted?