- The Kansas City Chiefs have no identity this year. Even after getting a month of publicity with the HBO Series Hard Knocks, nobody is in on this Chiefs team. Yes, it helps that the Chiefs suck, but Kansas City, really like any other city, is about supporting a winner. Which reminds me, I've never understood why some people call places like Boston, New York and St. Louis baseball towns. They're baseball towns because their teams always WIN. If the Royals always won, KC would be considered a "baseball" town. They were labeled a football town over the last 15 years because the Chiefs always won. So the city has become Lincoln South in a way. For now anyway, Kansas City is a college football town.
- The Nebraska Factor. Oh sure, both Missouri and Kansas got to play Nebraska at home. After years of getting their heads handed to them by the Huskers, Nebraska's five game losing streak started in Columbia as the Tigers throttled the Corn, and ended with the Jayhawks inexplicably hanging 76 in Lawrence on Billy C and company. Beating Nebraska is still a really, REALLY big deal to folks in KC. They haven't gotten over the Matt Davison flea kicker or the Osborne years of dominance over both teams, making these stops as laughable as a non-conference game. Even though Nebraska's down this year, when both teams scored with ease against them, it got everyone excited.
- Arrowhead Stadium. When you cram 80,000 screaming and drunk (yes, alcohol is being served at this game) passionate folks into that stadium, there's no better place to actually see a football game live. The other Arrowhead factor is of course the tailgating, which will be at an all-time high on Saturday. That parking lot is made for it. If the game were being played at Lawrence (Kansas is the home team), it would still be a major deal. But now you're talking about a stadium which will be half MU, half KU, and right outside will be some 10,000 more college kids wanting to get a taste.
- These two schools, these two areas, legitimately hate one another. This isn't the forced rivalry that is Nebraska/Colorado. They hate each other when they play basketball (Jason Whitlock in fact said the only thing that would top this game would be if Missouri and Kansas met for the National Championship in hoops some year). Whitlock also brought up about how Ohio State and Michigan "respect" each other. Not in KC. It's all just pure hate, and I'm expecting fights that go past midnight following the game no matter who wins.
- It's number 2 against number 3. In NOVEMBER. And even as Kansas has become the feel good story of the year in CFB, nobody in KC thinks that either team has gotten the respect from National Pundits that they deserve. I buy that. It seems that ESPN in particular is just waiting to put an Ohio State or Pac 10 team ahead of both KU and MU. I think Lou Holtz is still suggesting Notre Dame should get BCS consideration. Even with their hatred towards each other, everyone wants to see a "Game of the Century" with a punt return like Johnny Rodgers had in 1971 to throw a nice "FUCK YOU" towards the national media.
I'm just glad that Kansas City, the city itself, gets a game like this. It's a wonderful city with great people who we already know will embrace this atmosphere like nobody else can. Think of that great Nebraska/Oklahoma State game in October, 1998, during Frank Solich's first year as head coach. It was at Arrowhead, and it's still one of the greatest sporting events I've ever attended. There was the jammed parking lots full of tailgating as early as 3pm. I-70 and 435 were packed for hours. And even after Nebraska had to come up with a defensive stop to preserve the win, everyone stayed past Midnight in the parking lot, only to head to Westport until 3am. Our liver's were so much more ripe for the picking back then...
It'll be better on Saturday. Both of these teams are that good. Missouri's Chase Daniel should be awarded a trip to New York when they hand out the Heisman. What the Mangenius has done in Lawrence is as impressive as what Bill Snyder did at Kansas State. And one of these teams gets to play for the Big 12 Championship in over a week (not just the North, pay attention Billy C), and then a National Championship if they get by Oklahoma. PICKS:
- Missouri (-2) over Kansas. All season long, KU fans would come up to me, every week, wondering how their beloved Jayhawks would fare. They were confident against OSU, Nebraska and naturally Iowa State. Then last week, they'd look around the room, and then whisper, "Yeah, but don't you think that Missouri will just KILL Kansas?" Yeah, but for whatever reason, Mangenius has given this team some moxie. Unlike say, oh Bill Callahan, he knows how to handle all of this. He knows just how to handle the media, how to handle his new star sophomore quarterback. And now he's got everyone thinking National Championship. Seriously. It don't think MU will "just KILL" KU anymore, but I think they're just that much better than the Jayhawks right now. About five points better.
- Nebraska (-4) over Colorado. The Dead Man Walking Game, as some 20 hours after the game, it's widely speculated that no matter what happens in Boulder, Callahan's getting his walking papers. I'm still on the wait and see bus. I mean, think about it -- has Osborne ever had to fire anybody? This is the same guy who stood behind Lawrence Phillips in 1995 after he went Spiderman in that apartment complex, and the entire nation called out Osborne on it. But let's focus on this game for now. Just like he did in the K-State game, if Callahan sees a chance to go for 70-something, he's all freaking over it. This is resume building time for the guy, and he's full throttle.
- USC (-3.5) over Arizona State. Because even in an off-year, USC can still be USC. Especially on Thanksgiving night.