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Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2001

Allen preparing Jayhawks for Border War

October 18, 2001

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If Kansas University football coach Terry Allen is talking about the Civil War and slavery during his weekly press conference, then the Jayhawks must be playing Missouri.

Unlike years past, though, some people might have some trepidation about referring to the annual rivalry game as the Border War because of the country's ongoing campaign against terrorism.

When the subject was broached Wednesday, Allen turned philosophical.

"I think (it's OK) as long as you keep everything in perspective," he began. "This has a rich tradition and I'm sure that during the World Wars or during the Vietnam conflict or Korea, it was called the Border War. I think the important thing is we don't make this out to be more than it is. It's a college football game that happens to be called the Border War."

There is significance behind the nickname.

"We tell our football team," Allen said, "about the history of the Jayhawkers in the Civil War going over into Missouri and William Quantrill returning and burning the town down. Why is our high school here called Free State? Because we were for everything that was right in the sense we were for a free state, Missouri was for a slave state."

And that is all you need to know about the Border War, which kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

It's actually been more of a Boarder Disagreement of late, as the Jayhawks have won six of the past eight encounters, including three of four under Allen. Of course, all of Allen's wins came against former MU coach Larry Smith.

Now that new Tiger boss Gary Pinkel will get his first taste of the rivalry this weekend, it made Allen reflect on his first game against Mizzou, a 15-7 victory at Memorial Stadium.

"You're really kind of naive to this rivalry until you've been around it awhile," Allen said. "I recall at the end when we won the game, Dave Gillespie, who was on our staff at that time and had been around here, he grabbed me at the end and said, 'Coach, this is huge.' And I'm going, 'Yeah, you know, good. We beat Missouri.'

"But I think the more you're around it, the more you get to have a wonderful appreciation for the people in Missouri and it just increases the intensity of this rivalry."

It was the not-so-wonderful people in Missouri that KU remembers, particularly some of the rowdy fans who attended the Tigers' 41-23 victory in Columbia, Mo., during the 1998 season.

"I've still been aghast with the way we were treated a couple years ago over there," Allen said. "Our fans and our band and our people and parents getting hit by bottles and players getting hit by golf balls and the band being booed off the field. The list goes on and on.

"You don't forget about that, nor do your players."

The game's even more special for some of the players, particularly the 11 who hail from the Show-Me State.

"It means a lot every year to get the chance to play Missouri, my home state," said junior wide receiver Byron Gasaway, who's from Grandview. "You get to see a lot of people you played football against in high school. It's kind of fun playing against the people you played against in high school and in college."

Gasaway said the Tigers recruited him heavily in high school, and that his first official visit was to the Missouri campus. Of course, that's also meant he takes more heat from MU fans than some of his teammates.

But all the Jayhawks know the magnitude of playing Mizzou.

"I'm starting to learn," said junior tight end David Hurst, who's from Austin, Texas. "I didn't know how big a rivalry it was until I got here and coach (Don) Fambrough talked to us. We get four, five speeches a week about how big it is. My coach, Clint Bowen, he's from Lawrence and he'll talk about Quantrill's Raid and all that stuff."

Hurst also was enlightened by offensive line coach Sam Pittman, who was on the other side of the field for last year's KU-MU clash.

"It's a big game for him," Hurst said of Pittman. "He told us a story from their point of view. He said how they prepare for us. That was really interesting to hear what they do."

One of the things Hurst was surprised to learn about was that Missouri teams get their picture on the wall if they beat the Jayhawks.

"It's just incentive. The feeling's mutual," Hurst said. "Even though we don't put our picture on the wall for them, we still want to beat them. I mean, 50-50-9, whoever wins this game goes up. That's huge."

Not only will the victor have the edge in the all-time series and bragging rights for another year, but also both teams are looking at the big picture this season and possible bowl implications.

"I guess the Missouri game has always been a big game," Gasaway said, "not just because it's against your rival, but it's been a big game for the schedule. If we win this game we can get back to 2-2. We can get back to even-par at 3-3. We need this game. We need this to go to a bowl game.

"Now it's becoming time where we have to win games."

Missouri linebacker Sean Doyle and Kansas linebacker Marcus Rogers rank 1-2 on the Big 12 Conference tackling chart with 69 and 68 respectively.

Doyle, a junior who played at Kansas City Rockhurst, is a son of Mickey Doyle, a starting linebacker on KU's 1969 Orange Bowl team. Another Doyle son, Chris, was a special teams player at KU last year.

Doyle, who hails from Overland Park, is one of three Kansans on the Tigers' two-deep roster. The other two are defensive end Dan Davis (Topeka) and wide receiver Marcus James (Liberal). Like Doyle, Davis and James are starters.

Kansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman was on the Missouri staff last year.

Missouri has dropped five straight at Memorial Stadium. The Tigers' last win in Lawrence was a 31-21 decision in 1990.

Mizzou quarterback Kirk Farmer is a junior, but has never played against Kansas. Two years ago, Farmer suffered a broken leg the week before the KU game. Last year Farmer suffered a separated shoulder in the Tigers' fourth game.

Missouri is averaging one blocked kick per game. MU players have blocked two field goals, two extra points and a punt.

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