Kansas State and Missouri stopped being conference rivals more than a decade ago when the Tigers left the Big 12 for the SEC, but you wouldn’t know it based on the passion that surrounds their upcoming football game at Faurot Field.
In Manhattan, K-State players are talking about the nonconference clash as if it were a rivalry game ... right up there with Farmageddon and the Sunflower Showdown.
“I know it is going to be a hostile one,” K-State tight end Ben Sinnott said, “based on the history we have with Mizzou. I know that they’ve had this game circled for a long time, and so have we. We are ready to prove what kind of team we are and just kind of shut them up.”
Sinnott then needed a moment to collect his thoughts before describing in more detail what it is about the Tigers that has him and his teammates fired up for this weekend.
“It’s tough to answer this appropriately,” Sinnott said. “But I think just hearing all the talk and all the hostility that we got and the excuses after last year, they just give us so much motivation to really prove ourselves and leave them with nothing to say.”
K-State dismantled Mizzou 40-12 when they played last season at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, but the game was played in the middle of a thunderstorm. Bad weather led to long delays and neither team could throw the ball effectively in those elements.
But the Wildcats rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns, which led to a convincing victory.
How much of an impact did the weather have on the final score? It’s impossible to say. But K-State can validate its success by beating Missouri during better conditions at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
“I have heard it’s the weather’s fault,” Sinnott said. “I have heard it’s rainy, we couldn’t warm up, we couldn’t get ready. I mean, the weather isn’t the one who is playing on the field. It’s the actual players who are out there. Both teams are dealing with the same exact environment, so hearing any excuses about the weather is pretty funny.”
They are also excited about this game in Columbia.
Missouri is expecting its first sellout crowd for a nonconference game since 2012, and the Tigers would like to prove they are better than what they showed last season against the Wildcats.
“We have all been kind of looking towards it,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “It’s a big game.”
“I expect the fans to be there and for it to be a great game,” added Missouri running back Nathaniel Peat. “I expect the offense to be clicking on all cylinders, defense on all cylinders, and it’s going to be the best Mizzou they’re gonna get.”
It is fun to see some juice return to a rivalry that had grown dormant in recent years. Before they stopped playing on a yearly basis, K-State and Mizzou were regular opponents dating back to the old Big Eight.
None of that really matters to players on these teams, though.
They want to beat each other for different reasons, like conference pride.
“Nobody really likes the SEC in the Big 12,” K-State defensive end Khalid Duke said.
But it goes much deeper than that. Several players on the K-State roster are also from Missouri and feel like they got overlooked by the Tigers as a high school recruits. Now they want to beat them.
Some barbs were exchanged on social media last year when Drinkwitz seemed to troll K-State QB Avery Johnson with a post on Twitter. Then the Wildcats rubbed it in on Mizzou with posts of their own following the victory in Manhattan.
Things could get chippy on Saturday. Both teams seem just fine with that.
“We feel like it’s a rivalry,” added K-State linebacker Daniel Green, “and we are taking it real personal this week.”