In this week’s SI, senior editor Mark Godich shares an excerpt from his book Tigers vs. Jayhawks: From the Civil War to the Battle for No. 1, which will be published on Oct. 1 by Ascend Books. The excerpt focuses on the lead-up to the first game played by the onetime fierce rivals (they no longer play each other) on a neutral field since the 1940s, on Nov. 24, 2007, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas was 11-0 and ranked second in the country, while Mizzou was 10-1 and ranked fourth. It was the first time in 116 meetings that both teams were ranked in the top 10.
Godich explains that the late Lamar Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, came up with the idea to bring the game to Arrowhead Stadium. In 1988, he told then Chiefs GM Carl Peterson to make it happen, and after years of discussions, it finally did in 2007. “One of my biggest regrets is that he [Lamar Hunt] didn’t live long enough to see KU-MU at Arrowhead,” Peterson says. (PAGE 53)
“Business as usual,” Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel says of the mood at practice the week before the game. “Our motto that whole year was that it’s a big game because it’s the next game. We didn’t change anything.’ ” (PAGE 52)
“It was a positive anxiety,” says Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing. “I wanted the week to end so we could get to the game. I had so much raw energy. Those days couldn’t go by fast enough. It was a long week, the longest week I ever had before playing a game.” (PAGE 52)
The night before the game, No. 1-ranked LSU was upset by Arkansas, raising the stakes even higher for this game—the winner would most likely become the nation’s top team. With ESPN’s College GameDay live at the stadium, the atmosphere was wild.
“The greatest feeling was driving up,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel says. “It was unbelievable. Un-be-lievable. Fans were running up and hitting the buses. There were roars and cheers. You went by the Kansas people, and it was just the opposite. The environment was as good as it will ever get.” (PAGE 53)
Missouri would win the game 36-28 and move to No. 1 but lose the Big 12 title game to Oklahoma.