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The Liberty Bowl Needs a Border War: Make it Kansas vs. Missouri

NCAA Football: Tennessee Tech at Kansas

The Sunflower Showdown, the cleverly titled football game featuring the University of Kansas and Kansas State, has been lopsided over the past several years. The Wildcats have owned the series of late, but with the resurgence of KU football this season, many were hoping to see renewed energy in the rivalry game.

There did seem to be more hype around this game than in previous meetings over the past decade. Kansas State was playing for the chance to advance to the Big 12 Championship game against undefeated TCU. Kansas, which gained bowl eligibility for the first time since 2008 earlier in November, was playing to get back on the winning side of the rivalry game and potentially be looked at by better bowl games.

 

It was a chilly and rainy evening in Manhattan, Kansas as the Wildcats hosted the Jayhawks. Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn was licking his chops after seeing what Texas running back Bijan Robinson did to KU’s defense the previous week (243 yards and four touchdowns).

The Kansas defense actually started the game with a three and out before a special teams blunder, a muffed punt deep inside their own territory, set up the Wildcats for their first touchdown of the game. The Jayhawks did answer to even things up at 7-7 before the Wildcats ran up a double-digit lead to close the first quarter up 23-7.

The Jayhawks did their best to keep it a game, riding Devin Neal in the second quarter for two touchdowns while holding the Wildcats to only one touchdown of their own. The 30-21 halftime score was as close as Kansas would get to taking the lead again.

Vaughn opened the scoring in the third quarter with a one-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 37-21 lead… He finished the game with 147 yards on 25 carries. Jalon Daniels got the Jayhawks a little bit closer with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but a failed two-point conversion couldn’t get it to a one-score game.

 

The Wildcats finished the game on a 10-0 run to close out the game and officially take the win 47-27. Too many mistakes on defense and the special teams gaffe early in the game haunted the Jayhawks and it was too much to make up as the game came to a close. Another Sunflower Showdown going to Kansas State.

Now, the Jayhawks can look forward to their first bowl game in 14 years. There are still questions as to which bowl will invite the Jayhawks but there have been a few floated out there. In the press box during the Jayhawks’ home finale at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, there were pamphlets promoting the Liberty Bowl. This is a game that is set to feature a Big 12 vs SEC matchup. The Liberty Bowl will be played in Memphis, Tennessee on December 28th at 4:30 pm on ESPN.

The stars aligned this past weekend and the Liberty Bowl along with its representatives could do something special. The University of Missouri’s football team upset Arkansas and became bowl eligible. The former Big 12 team, who has underwhelmed during their time in the SEC, could be an option for an invitation to the Liberty Bowl. If the powers that be want to fill up their stadium and create a fun bowl game atmosphere, having Kansas vs Missouri in the Liberty Bowl would be a fantastic idea and a fun matchup at that.

 

Both teams would enter the game with a 6-6 record. The winner takes home the trophy, a winning record, and bragging rights. The old rivalry has been renewed in basketball (Kansas vs Missouri will be played in Columbia, MO on December 10), but this would be the first time the football teams have played since Mizzou abandoned the Big 12 conference in 2011.

Mizzou has the series advantage with 57 wins to KU’s 54 wins. There have been 9 ties in the series. The Border War is set to pick up with a four-game home-and-home series, starting on September 6, 2025, in Columbia, MO. They will play in Lawrence, KS the following season on September 12, 2026. They will pick it back up on September 6, 2031, in Columbia and then go back to Lawrence again on September 11, 2032.

Seeing Kansas and Missouri in a bowl game to renew the rivalry a few years early could be something special that hasn’t been seen in over a decade. The Liberty Bowl should do the right thing and make this matchup a reality.

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