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Archive for Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mangino: Mizzou is KU’s No. 1 rival

November 21, 2006

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Now comes the real rival - at least in Kansas University coach Mark Mangino's eyes.

After beating Kansas State, 39-20, Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Mangino raised a few eyebrows by saying "I'm not hung up on this rivalry thing. We're playing our rival next week."

That, of course, is Saturday's Border War football game at Missouri.

Mangino stood by the statement Monday, saying it stemmed from the feeling he gets from his program's supporters.

"Our fan base truly has a passion for : the Border rivalry," Mangino said. "Our fan base views that as the No. 1 rivalry we have."

Certainly, the argument's there. Missouri-Kansas has long been competitive in both football and basketball, something Kansas-Kansas State hasn't been able to say until recently.

As for the coaches and players? They try to dismiss any game being more important than another, though that can certainly be disputed when rivarly week is here.

"We approach all 12 games on the schedule with the same enthusiasm, intensity and preparation," Mangino said.

But a few extras are thrown in for Missouri week. Former KU coach Don Fambrough has spoken annually to the football team about his hatred for Mizzou, which stems from several instances over several decades. He also reminds the players about the historic Quantrill's Raid, where Missourians attacked Lawrence and burned down much of town in 1863.

For KU football, it's been a long time since so much has been at stake in the Border War game. KU is bowl-eligible at 6-5, but it's chances at being invited to a bowl game aren't great unless it improves to 7-5 on Saturday.

"Our glass is half-full," Mangino said. "We've got a game to play this week. We'll have that discussion (on bowl games) next week."

Kansas (6-5 overall, 3-4 Big 12 Conference play) certainly has had its way with Missouri in the past, winning the last three meetings by a combined score of 79-31. This despite being labeled the underdog in all three showdowns.

Missouri (7-4, 4-3) is favored again this week, with the line around seven points. Both Mangino and MU coach Gary Pinkel were asked about the three-game streak Monday on the Big 12 coaches conference call.

"I just think you focus on this year," Pinkel said. "You can't do anything about the past, whether we won them or lost them."

Added Mangino: "As far as how many games and who beat who, that doesn't matter to me. That's not a big issue."

But both programs realize the emotion attached to Saturday's game. For Mizzou, Kansas is the natural No. 1 rival. And many at KU, including Mangino, thinks the same about the Tigers.

"It's a great rivalry as we all know," Pinkel said. "It's one of the best in the nation."

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