With Missouri's win over Texas in Austin last night it sets up a big matchup this coming Saturday when Kansas comes to town. Assuming the Jayhawks take care of business at home, the two teams will sit one and two in the conference with just one game separating the teams. That means that Saturday's Border War in Columbia will be provide an opportunity to take an early edge in the league title hunt.
A week ago that didn't seem as though it would be the case. Missouri had lost to Oklahoma State on the road and Kansas had been cruising with a two game cushion. The only problem for the Jayhawks was that they had played the easier portion of their conference schedule. Things really kicked up a notch with a road game in Ames and a series of road contests in Columbia, Waco and Manhattan on the docket in the coming weeks.
Missouri, on the other hand, has probably played a pretty tough portion and done fairly well. Take away the slip up in Stillwater and the Tigers won games on the road in Waco, Ames and Austin. There only other loss came against Kansas State in Manhattan. That means the Tigers have a tough road game in Lawrence still on the schedule, but most of their matchups with the top half of the conference will come at home from here on out.
That makes the opportunity at hand on Saturday all the more important for both sides. If Missouri can win, they pull even and put themselves in a position to watch Kansas fight in some pressure packed road contests in attempt to stay even. If the Tigers can hold serve and Kansas drops a game or two, then Kansas will be chasing their rival down the stretch with only one opportunity to do any damage themselves when Missouri plays Kansas in Lawrence.
On the other hand, if Kansas wins, the Jayhawks give themselves a two game lead over Missouri and sit one game ahead of Baylor. At this point Baylor would be the better team for Kansas to be trading blows with simply because the Bears still have some stiff competition left on the schedule.
It's amazing how quickly a league title race can change. One week Missouri was hot, then Kansas took that spot and now despite trailing in the standings Missouri once again seems to have the momentum. In the final year of the Border War it looks as though the two games between these teams could prove hugely important in the league race and it all kicks off on Saturday in Columbia.