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Drummed up

Ten things you should know about the Tigers-Jayhawks rivalry game

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  • By Ryan Gavin
  • Published: Nov. 26, 2008
1897 football program

C:31/00/2. Courtesy of University Archives, University of Missouri at Columbia.

At 11:30 a.m. this Saturday in Kansas City, the football teams of Mizzou and the University of Kansas will play against each other for the 118th time. We've compiled a list of 10 things you should know about this long-standing rivalry, as well as the game specifically, to understand the significance of the border war and impress your friends with your football savvy.

  1. The Tigers and Jayhawks first played on Halloween in 1891 and have played every year since, except for 1918, when the game was cancelled due to an epidemic. Mizzou leads the all-time series 54-53-9, although Kansans argue it should be 54-53-9 in their favor.
  2. In 1960, Kansas won the game, but it was later forfeited because the Jayhawks used an ineligible player in the game. The NCAA and Missouri count the game as a win for the Tigers, though the Jayhawks still count it as their win. The game was the final one of the season for both teams, and though the win was given to Mizzou, the forfeit cost the Tigers a chance at the national championship that season, adding to the bitterness of the rivalry.
  3. Last season, Missouri and Kansas met at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, renewing an old tradition. The games were played in Kansas City from the year the series started through 1910, but then the campuses started alternating home games in 1911. The game also was played in Kansas City in 1944 and 1945, but the campuses resumed hosting games after that.
  4. The tradition of Homecoming originated in Mizzou's 1911 game against Kansas, when Tigers were asked to "come home" for the game against the Jayhawks at Rollins Field. The game ended in a 3-3 tie, but the concept of Homecoming spread across the country and is now something schools nationwide celebrate.
  5. The border war in 2007 had an added significance at Arrowhead Stadium. The Tigers were ranked third in the Associated Press media poll and fourth in the Coaches Poll, and Kansas was ranked second in both. Following the 36-28 win, Mizzou climbed to No. 1 in the AP poll and No. 2 in the Coaches Poll, and it also won the school's first Big 12 North title. A crowd of 80,537 packed in to watch the game and was the second-largest crowd in the stadium's 35-year history. The game already is considered to be one of the most significant in the schools' histories.
  6. The same tune is used in Kansas's and Missouri's school songs, though the schools, of course, use different lyrics. Both schools claim ownership of it, though there is no definitive proof of which school used it first.
  7. Mizzou and Kansas have competed in the Border Showdown since 2003. Points are awarded for the games in which both schools field teams. Since the Tigers have more sports teams, Mizzou strengths such as gymnastics, swimming and wrestling don't count. The Tigers lead the series 4-2, having won in 2004 and 2006-2008.
  8. The Tigers and Jayhawks were again the talk of college football in 2007 after the bowl announcements were made. Despite playing for the Big 12 title and beating Kansas to win the North crown, the Orange Bowl eschewed the Tigers in favor of Kansas. Both of Missouri's losses were to Oklahoma, once during the regular season and once in the title game, and it was later said by Orange Bowl officials that Kansas was selected because of a better record. While the Tigers were proud to play in the Cotton Bowl, many fans said they thought Missouri was unfairly penalized for winning the Big 12 North. Players this season have said they look forward to exacting revenge for the slight last season.
  9. Coaches have been just as into the rivalry as the players have. Don Fambrough, who coached at Kansas from 1971-1982, had health problems after his stint as a coach. When urged by doctors to go to Kansas City, Mo., for medical attention, he told them, "I'd die first!" Former Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart was famous for refusing to support the state of Kansas in any fashion when his team had away games at Kansas. He made bus drivers refuel in Missouri and refused to let players eat at Kansas restaurants, saying he didn't want to support Kansas's economy in any way.
  10. The winner of the game between the schools receives the Indian War Drum traveling trophy. The tradition began in 1937, when MU's Kansas City Alumni Association and the Kansas University Lettermen's Association decided to award the game's winner an authentic tom-tom. The organizations contacted the Osage Indians, who were thought to be most representative of both regions, and the trophy was created. The drum was forgotten during World War II, but the trophy was again presented in 1947. The drum went missing in the 1980s, and the Taos Indians of New Mexico built a new drum to serve as a trophy. The original drum was eventually discovered under some boxes in the basement of Read Hall on MU's campus and is now in the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1999, the drum was replaced with the currently used bass drum and Missouri kept the second trophy.

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