Kansas University never has looked ahead to a football game against Missouri with a greater opportunity for glitz and glory than it does this year.
The first time for anything even remotely comparable was 60 years ago, in 1947, when the first bowl game in KU history was at stake.
Then there was the 1960 match in Columbia, when MU had a 9-0 record, was rated No. 1 in the nation, and No. 9-ranked KU dismantled the disillusioned Tigers, 23-7. Not bad, but a pesky asterisk tarnished that feat.
I know, the 2007 Jayhawks must dispose of Iowa State to get at Mizzou. There's no way KU will disrespect the Cyclones. The great beauty about this poised and devoted crew is that it is capable of beating ISU, Missouri and probably Oklahoma to reach the national title game. They have the scent of not only a league but also a national championship and aren't worried about the polls. They'll settle their own ranking by running the table.
KU contends it has a 54-52-9 edge in the MU series, although the Tigers have a different take because of that game in 1960. KU had to forfeit its wins over Colorado and Missouri because of the Bert Coan recruiting hassle. The KU media guide lists the '60 season record at 7-2-1 (with an asterisk noting it's 5-4-1). Mizzou contends it had an 11-0 record that season, which included a 1-0 forfeit by Kansas and then a victory over Navy and Joe Bellino in the Orange Bowl.
But I'll die remembering the '47 game as my all-time favorite. It opened the door for KU's trip to the Orange Bowl and was as thrilling a triumph as any Kansas fan ever could concoct. May we be so lucky Nov. 24 in Kansas City, Mo.
With a tremendous team sparked by quarterback Bus Entsminger, Missouri led 14-13 and was marching for a clincher. Kansas stopped the Tigers at its own six-yard-line with 8:30 to play. Thirteen plays later, KU was on the MU eight. Bam, bam, bam, to the two; fourth and goal. Guard Don Fambrough, frothing at the mouth, helped the line obliterate the foes, and Forrest Griffith soared untouched for the score.
Fambrough's kick made it 20-14 with 1:30 to go, and MU couldn't respond.
The crowd that day was 40,034, the largest ever to see a Big Six game. Immediately there was speculation KU would go to the Orange Bowl and its team would travel by air for the first time in school history. High stakes, gutty performance, a real sty-stinger.
MU was a little cocky in 1960 since KU had lost to Syracuse and Iowa and been tied by Oklahoma. The Jayhawks held MU's famed power sweeps to only 61 yards, and Mizzou didn't get a first down during the first 40 minutes.
Roger Hill broke a 0-0 halftime tie with a 46-yard field goal, John Hadl hit Coan with a 19-yard scoring pass, and Coan and Sam Simpson got the other TDs (Simpson on a jump pass from Rodger McFarland).
KU had its first undisputed league title since 1930, until... . But scintillating as that Columbia Conquest was, it still didn't have quite the impact of the 1947 gut-wrencher.
Yet no matter what KU has accomplished in the Missouri series since it began in 1891, it's never been in the delightful position it enjoys right now.
Jayhawk fans justifiably believe a 14-0 record is in reach. More important, so do these Jayhawks.