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Kansas City, Mo. — We'll never know which team would have won the 116th rendition of the Border War had it been played in Memorial Stadium, home field of Kansas University, 36-28 loser Saturday night to Missouri at sold-out Arrowhead Stadium.
This much we do know: The more deserving team advanced to the Big 12 title game and kept its national-title hopes alive.
In terms of fairness, the neutrality of the site - the crowd was split pretty much equally between those wearing blue and those dressed in black and gold - offered the truest test of which team was more worthy of competing for a national title.
Then again, in love and Border Wars, who cares about fairness?
Oddsmakers generally say the homefield advantage is worth three points, but the student-driven energy of Memorial Stadium always seems to be worth more than that. Again, who knows?
None of KU's seven opponents in Memorial Stadium came within 30 points of the Jayhawks, but none had the sort of talent Missouri had at the offensive skill positions and on both the offensive and defensive lines.
The score was 34-28 until Reesing was dropped for a safety with 12 seconds remaining, a safety that would not have occurred had the score been 34-34. Scott Webb missed field goals of 33 and 45 yards. Two other scoring opportunities died when Reesing threw a pair of interceptions.
"Playing so many weeks in a row without having an interception, without having a turnover on offense, and then in the biggest game we need to do that the most to have those, it's hard not to say what if, what if that didn't happen?" KU quarterback Todd Reesing said. "It's tough, but I don't think it had anything to do with the crowd or who were playing. That's football. You can't go the whole season without throwing a pick or turning the ball over. I think we went about five or six games. All good things come to an end. We'll bounce back and get ready for the bowl game."
Reesing had gone six-plus games and 213 passes without throwing an interception, and KU had not had a turnover of any sort in four consecutive weeks.
With a victory Saturday night, KU would have moved from No. 2 to No. 1 in the polls and would need just one more victory in the Big 12 title game to play for the national title. If the game had been played in Memorial Stadium, would KU be 12-0?
"That's hindsight," KU coach Mark Mangino said afterward. "I don't get into hypotheticals, and I'm never one to look over my shoulder. The game was played here. That's the agreement we made. We had a chance to win the game just like Missouri did, and they won. I'm not a second-guesser. As I say all the time, I'm focused on the present and mindful of the future."
In the immediate future of the Border War, 2008, Mizzou is robbed of its home game and makes a return trip to Arrowhead. The odds of as much being at stake for that one are about 1 in 116.
The schedule was packed with so much good fortune for KU this season, starting with avoiding Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech and playing four nonconference home games. The good fortune of the schedule ran out when the Border War was moved to Arrowhead and KU to be the better team. On this night, it wasn't.