Sunday, October 15, 2000

Border brilliance, KANSAS 38, MISSOURI 17

Jayhawks show Missouri they're capable of emotional win over archrival


— Just moments after one of the biggest and certainly most emotional wins as Kansas University's football coach, Terry Allen tried to gather the Jayhawks for a postgame singing of the Rock Chalk Chant.

Trouble was, the players kept bolting the field for the locker room.

You'll have to excuse them. They haven't had much practice in that sort of thing.

Regardless, Allen was able to draw them together long enough for their traditional postgame song, and it provided an apt and somewhat poignant metaphor for the Jayhawks' 38-17 rout of archrival Missouri on Saturday afternoon at Faurot Field.

Because Allen was able to pull the Jayhawks together after two lopsided losses, they were able to come together for the song they sing only after KU victories and never before under Allen in a league opponent's stadium.

"We needed this so bad," KU senior offensive guard and Missouri native Marc Owen said. "Last week we decided we have a six-game season left, and this was the first game of the rest of the season. To get our first Big 12 win, our first Big 12 road win since coach Allen's been here it changes everything."

Maybe not everything, but it sure helped the maligned Jayhawks (3-3 overall, 1-2 Big 12) exorcise a whole haunted house full of demons:

It was their first Big 12 road win under fourth-year coach Allen and first since 1996, a string of 14 straight league road losses.

It was Kansas' first win in Columbia since 1994 in a series in which the home team had won each of the last five games, and it spoiled the Tigers' homecoming to boot.

Plus, it evened the all-time record in the second-oldest series in NCAA Div. I-A at 50-50-9 and the 38 points were the third-most Kansas ever had scored in Columbia's notoriously hostile stadium.

"It's all level now," Allen gushed, "and we're proud of 'em."

He has every right to be.

The Jayhawks didn't just win. They dominated.

KU, led by quarterback Dylen Smith's career-best 77 rushing yards and 234 passing yards, gained 453 total yards while yielding just 247.

Kansas rushed for 219 yards while limiting the Tigers to a piddling 10.

KU won the turnover battle, collecting four interceptions one of which Tim Bowers returned 32 yards for a TD and a fumble while giving away just two possessions.

Heck, Kansas even won the battle of special teams with 100 yards in punt returns, including Roger Ross' 62-yard punt-return touchdown that gave the Jayhawks a three-possession lead late in the third quarter.

"Kansas was better than us," MU coach Larry Smith said. "They beat us on every front."

It came a week after a potentially devastating loss to KU's other rival, Kansas State.

Miffed at the Jayhawks' softness in that game, Allen changed the practice routine and, though it's against his nature, encouraged live, full-speed hitting in the week leading up to Mizzou (2-4, 1-2).

In the back of his mind, Allen worried the Jayhawks' wouldn't rise to the bait.

"I said drastic times called for drastic measures," Allen said. "I had a deep-felt feeling (a negative reaction) wouldn't happen. These kids don't quit. We certainly didn't quit today."

Even in the hours leading up to kickoff, the doubts haunted Allen.

"I told one of our coaches, we'll either be ready to play, or this will be the biggest debacle in the history of the game," Allen said. "You couldn't hear a fork drop all morning long."

He needn't have worried.

Kansas took a 3-0 lead on its first series, weathered a slew of penalties by its beleaguered offense and shrugged off a wacky series of three fumbles in three plays that gave Missouri its only lead of the day at 7-3.

"I told them there'd be a lot of difficulties today," Allen said, "from the conditions to what they do offensively. I told them just sit back and absorb it and take it in and we'll be fine. We stayed together as a team. It would have been easy after what we've been through to come apart."

They coalesced instead.

KU took the game's first possession 57 yards in eight plays and took a 3-0 lead at 11:15 on Joe Garcia's 38-yard field goal.

Neither team scored until 14:35 remained in the second quarter, when Kansas lost two fumbles one by Smith, one by Moran Norris sandwiched around a Mizzou fumble, all in three straight plays. The third in the string, charged to Norris, was covered by MU's Duke Revard in the end zone for a 7-3 Tiger lead.

KU scored two straight TDs an eight-yard pass from Smith to Ross and Bowers' interception return for a 17-7 lead, but Darius Outlaw hit Eric Spencer with a 60-yard TD pass to make it 17-14 at the half.

By halftime, Kansas already had a season-worst nine penalties for 65 yards all charged to the offense. At that point, the Jayhawks had outgained MU, 214 total yards to 135, and had 14 first downs to Mizzou's five.

"We had a couple of breakdowns early," Smith said, "but everybody got their heads together when it counted."

The second half was all KU. Smith sprinted for a three-yard touchdown at 11:12 in the third, then Ross had his punt-runback TD at 5:31 for a 31-14 lead.

Missouri closed to 31-17 on a 31-yard Brad Hammerich field goal, but the Jayhawks all but iced it with David Winbush's 12-yard TD run with 11:46 left.

The rest was afterthought.

"A lot of it was for coach Allen," Smith said. "There's been a lot in the papers last week, people saying this and that. He's a good guy and a good coach, and we had to prove that."

The Jayhawks will play host to Colorado on Saturday. Kickoff is 11:30 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.

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