for this game

Missouri holds on to beat Kansas, reaches Big 12 title game

Nov 25, 2007 - 6:24 AM KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- Chase Daniel capped his ground-breaking regular season by leading Missouri to perhaps the biggest win in the program's undistinguished history.

Daniel tossed three touchdowns Saturday, legitimizing his Heisman Trophy candidacy and leading the third-ranked Tigers to a 36-28 victory over No. 2 Kansas in the 116th overall meeting between the Big 12 Conference rivals.

Unranked in both preseason polls, Missouri (11-1, 7-1 Big 12 North) has posted its first 11-win season since 1960, when it finished 11-0.

Courtesy of their convincing win in this latest edition of the contest formerly known as the "Border War," the Tigers will represent the Big 12 North Division next weekend in San Antonio against 10th-ranked Oklahoma in the conference title game.

"The bottom line is the win. Hopefully we're No. 1 in the nation, but all that stuff doesn't matter," Daniel said. "It's good for show. It's good for the community of Columbia, for the state of Missouri, but we've got a tough game going down to San Antonio against our only loss that we have and a great Oklahoma team."

Missouri has not won a conference title of any kind since 1969, when it captured the Big Eight crown.

Conversely, it was a disappointing end to an otherwise dream season for the Jayhawks (11-1, 7-1 North), who entered as one of only two undefeated teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

"We made plays, but not enough of them," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "It was disappointing. They made more plays than we did."

Western Athletic Conference champion Hawaii (11-0) can complete a perfect season next week with a win at Washington.

Neither Missouri nor Kansas had won a Big 12 North crown since the conference was established in 1996.

But with a victory next week over the Sooners, the Tigers almost certainly will compete in the BCS title game, a prospect which seems unthinkable for a program which had posted just six winning seasons since 1983.

The Tigers can credit their amazing season to the emergence of Daniel, who entered this crucial contest already owning the school's single-season records for completions, passing yards and touchdowns.

Daniel authored another chapter to his brilliant season against a Kansas squad which entered with the No. 2 national ranking in scoring defense and the eighth-best mark in opponents' yardage.

A junior, the gun-slinging Daniel was nearly perfect against Kansas' vaunted defense, completing 40-of-49 passes for 363 yards while helping Missouri record 19 first downs through the air.

It was the eighth 300-yard game this season for Daniel, who threw TD passes of 1, 11 and 3 yards to outduel Kansas signal-caller Todd Reesing and improve Missouri's overall record to 54-53-9 in this storied rivalry.

Now a serious contender for the Heisman, Daniel has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 3,953 yards and 33 TDs this season.

"We didn't turn the ball over, which was good. Tony (Temple) did some great things, netting 98 yards rushing. He really ran hard. That really helped the offense," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "Chase Daniel was 41 for 49. That's unbelievable. You saw it. America saw it. This guy is special. What a remarkable player."

Daniel's favorite target was 6-4 sophomore Danario Anderson, a relative non-factor entering the contest who finished with eight catches for a career-high 117 yards.

"Danario was unbelievable. He was open all night, made some plays down the field," Daniel said.

With Missouri owning a 7-0 lead five minutes into the second quarter, Daniel avoided a pair of pass-rushers and scrambled to his right before zipping an 11-yard scoring strike to Anderson.

Daniel's third TD of the game, a three-yarder to Derrick Washington, gave the Tigers a 28-7 halftime lead.

But thanks to a spirited fourth-quarter effort from Reesing, the Jayhawks clawed to within 34-28 on the sophomore's five-yard TD to Marcus Henry with 2:03 remaining.

However, the Tigers recovered the ensuing onside kick and sacked Reesing in the end zone with 12 seconds remaining to seal the victory and spark a wild celebration in front of a capacity crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Jayhawks' second-ranked offense struggled early, as Reesing tossed an interception deep in Tigers territory and Scott Webb missed a pair of second-quarter field goals en route to a scoreless first half.

But after throwing another interception on Kansas' first possession of the third quarter, Reesing snapped out of his funk. The sophomore directed the Jayhawks to touchdowns on four consecutive possessions before being sacked by Lorenzo Williams for a safety in the waning seconds.

Reesing finished 28-for-49 for 352 yards while Dexton Fields had eight catches for 116 yards for Kansas, which already has set a school record for wins.

"I'm not in a happy mood right now. It is frustrating," Reesing said. "We moved the ball well on offense. We weren't able to convert in the first half. In the second half, it was just too late. We kind of ran out of time. We fought back to have a chance at the end of the game and we did.

"We're a one-loss team. We're still going to have a pretty good bowl, but at the moment we lose to our rival, we didn't win the Big 12 North, but we won 11 games. That's amazing, but it is tough right now."