All joking aside you K-State and Mizzou fans, my football memories from college (and after) aren’t nearly as strong as my basketball memories. That’s not just because I went to a basketball school, although that’s a big reason. With college football, you have 4-6 home games vs. 15 in basketball. You’re generally playing all cupcakes outside the conference schedule as opposed to Kentucky, UConn, Indiana, and UCLA. Road games are less likely to be on TV. Despite all that, I have plenty of memories of sitting nervously on a chair in my dorm room listening to Glen Mason’s troops blowing late leads in Ames, IA and Stillwater, OK. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite KU basketball moment from my days in Lawrence, but three moments quickly jump up for football:
The Tony Sands game, when Tony ran for 496 yards against MU in 1991.
The Oklahoma game in 1992. The Sooners went down followed by the goal posts.
The KU-K-State game in 1990. An absolutely perfect day for two programs on the rise to play for state supremacy. Nary a cloud in the sky, a totally packed stadium (Back then maybe 5,000 of the seats were filled with Purples, as opposed to the 25,000 that come to Lawrence now). KU rushed out to a big lead and held on to win by three points. There was a race for the Kansas governor seat that year, so before, during, and after the game planes flew overhead trailing banners for each candidate. People plastered buttons and stickers of their preferred candidate above the school letters on their shirts. It was the perfect fall college day in a small state where almost the entire population was focused on one stadium for four hours.
I reference all of that because tomorrow I’m headed to South Bend for the Purdue-Notre Dame game. The weather isn’t supposed to be as gorgeous as that day 14 years ago, but it should still be a classic upper Midwestern fall day. Two in-state rivals will meet in one of the biggest games of the weekend. Where KU and K-State were fighting for respect a decade ago, Purdue is trying to get a 30 year South Bend monkey off their backs and Notre Dame is trying to prove they’re still an elite program. There just happens to be a governor’s race in Indiana this year, so I expect to see plenty of Kernan and Daniels paraphernalia. Well, the Notre Dame fans will be more concerned with the Illinois senate race or whatever state they all fly in from for the weekend, but you get my point. I won’t have the emotional stake in the game I had in 1990 (I’m officially neutral. While I do enjoy watching Purdue play quite a lot, their colors are far too similar to Missouri’s for me to become a fan. And while I’ve long hated Notre Dame, as I learned last year, there’s something about being in South Bend, seeing Touchdown Jesus, and walking into the stadium that makes you want them to win.) but everything is setting up for it to be a magical day. I just need to make sure I don’t go out too fast tomorrow morning so I can remember everything and report back to you next week.
By the way, although I still hold firmly to my belief that KU will never beat Nebraska in football in my lifetime, could tomorrow be the day it happens? After all, the football gods could ensure that result to punish me for going to a different game rather than ordering the pay-per-view of my game. Nah, it’s still Kansas vs. Nebraska. Won’t happen.