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Give Them Liberty: Kansas Goes Bowling in Memphis As Rivals Hide From Challenge

NCAA Football: Kansas at Houston

On Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t a surprise when it was announced the Kansas Jayhawks would be playing in the Liberty Bowl on December 28th in Memphis, Tennessee. According to Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff, Liberty Bowl representatives had been flirting with the Jayhawks dating back to Big 12 media days. Then in the press box, there was the not-so-subtle hint the Liberty Bowl wanted the Jayhawks by dropping off pamphlets and literature on the bowl game in the press box for the media to fawn over.

For those unaware, the Liberty Bowl has conference tie-ins with the Big 12 and SEC. It makes sense folks at the Liberty Bowl would be interested in Kansas even before the season. There was cautious optimism surrounding the Jayhawks heading into the season and despite the over/under win total of 2.5, bowl officials like those from the Liberty Bowl could see the winds changing in Lawrence, Kansas.

 

After the Jayhawks got to that six-win threshold, it was a foregone conclusion the Liberty Bowl would be the landing spot for KU. Heading into the final few weeks of the season, there was speculation that the Liberty Bowl could pit Kansas against their former conference rival, the University of Missouri. The Tigers still needed to upset Arkansas in the final week of the regular season to become bowl eligible, and they ended up getting the win and having the potential to see a rivalry game in the Liberty Bowl.

Unfortunately for fanbases from both schools, Missouri’s powers-that-be decided they didn’t want to have anything to do with the Jayhawks in a bowl game. Many were speculating Missouri’s athletic department didn’t think it would be a good look if they lost to Kansas in basketball (game coming up on December 10th) and football in the same month. Some argued it would have been a lose/lose situation for Missouri. Win the bowl game and, well, that’s what they were supposed to do. Lose the bowl game and get ridiculed for years to come.

 

For now, the Border Showdown will have to wait until the two teams scheduled meeting on September 6, 2025, in Columbia, Missouri. Since the Tigers wouldn’t take on the Jayhawks in the Liberty Bowl, the SEC decided to make it a game between Mizzou’s two biggest border rivals. They are sending the Arkansas Razorbacks to be KU’s opponent in the 2022 Liberty Bowl.

This should be a fantastic matchup between two 6-6 teams, but the Border Showdown would have been more fun for the Kansas fanbase. Nevertheless, KU will be playing in their first bowl in 14 seasons and the players will be ready to make their mark on the program. A win in the Liberty Bowl would launch Kansas into the 2023 season with some momentum and a lot of key players returning to the program for next season.

First-team all-Big 12 cornerback Cobee Bryant will be back. Second-team all-Big 12 selections including quarterback Jalon Daniels, tight end Mason Fairchild, center Mike Novitsky, and defensive end Lonnie Phelps are all expected to return. Honorable mention all-Big 12 players like safety Kenny Logan Jr and running back Devin Neal are also slated to be back on the squad. Kansas should continue to rise and a Liberty Bowl win would be a nice setup for this core group of players to launch their next campaign.

 

According to The Action Network, the Razorbacks are opening as a 7-point favorite. The Jayhawks are back in that underdog role against a team that is their equal. It wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if Kansas came out and won this bowl game. Arkansas is coming off a disappointing season, especially down the stretch, and while Kansas also struggled down the stretch, they seem to have more to play for in this one.

The Liberty Bowl wanted Kansas all along, and they got their team. They know the fanbase is hungry for a bowl experience and they are banking on seeing crimson and blue take over the streets of Memphis in late December. Jayhawk nation will show up for their team and their team will give them a show on gameday in return.

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