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KcMizzou
11-23-2007, 03:39 AM
Border War participants could clean up at award time
By MIKE DeARMOND
The Kansas City Star

The winner of Saturday’s Border War will gain that distinction by playing the team game. Good luck getting the individual stars of the Missouri Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks to talk about anything else.

Just ask Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel about being selected a finalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award earlier this week. And an apparent shoo-in to be invited to New York as one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy.

“We’re out to dinner and somehow it came up,” teammate Martin Rucker said. “He downplayed it all.”

Same thing with Rucker, a contender for first team All-American honors as the leading receiver among tight ends in the nation.

“We know how to handle that stuff,” Rucker said. “We don’t talk about.”

Aqib Talib, Kansas’ star defensive back, expressed the same disdain for anything beyond team success.

“I’m not out to prove nothing about myself,” he said this week. “The score could be 75-76 and I got all 75 points scored on me, I couldn’t care less. If we win that game, I’m happy.”

Still, individually, there’s a lot on the line at Arrowhead Stadium for the stars of both teams.

It’s not a complete list of Jayhawks or Tigers who could wind up all-conference or better. But here’s a look at some of the more compelling individual situations. And we’ll start first with the stars of the official home team in this Border War:

Todd Reesing, KU quarterback

Reesing could win first-team All-Big 12 Conference honors if he has a demonstrably better game than MU’s Daniel on Saturday night, KU wins and Reesing makes a big splash in the Big 12 Conference title game. That scenario might also boost Reesing’s stock in Heisman consideration.

Aqib Talib, KU cornerback

He’s a Bronko Nagurski Award finalists, on the Walter Camp Player of the Year watch list and a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist. He has four interceptions and 13 pass breakups. But Talib has been burned by K-State’s Jordy Nelson and Nebraska’s Maurice Purify. If he gets toasted again with the national attention being shown to the Border War, Talib’s status could slip when it comes times to hand out various awards and honors.

James McClinton, KU defensive tackle

If there is a shoo-in for All-America honors, this guy would appear to be it. He’s had 10.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and an interception, rare for an interior lineman. He’s already clinched All-Big 12 first team honors. He’s up for the Lombardi Award as the nation’s best defensive lineman and may even be the favorite.

Anthony Collins, KU offensive tackle

He’s a finalist for the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in college football. All-American honors probably can be solidified if Collins simply plays Saturday. An undisclosed injury kept him out of action last week.

Chase Daniel, MU quarterback

As a Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award finalist, Daniel is the leader in the clubhouse for All-Big 12 first-team honors. If Missouri wins and Daniel adds just a bit to his 3,590 passing yards and 30 TD passes, he’ll be the de facto winner. If Missouri beats Kansas, Daniel might challenge Florida’s Tim Tebow for leadership in the Heisman pecking order.

Martin Rucker, MU tight end

Rucker can be nearly invisible Saturday and earn All-Big 12 first-team honors. Showing up in his normally big way — he has 70 receptions, leading all tight ends around the country — should go a long way toward making Rucker a consensus All-America selection.

Sean Weatherspoon, MU linebacker

Eight of his 102 tackles have result in opponent losses. He’s forced two fumbles and recovered one. An All-Big 12 first-team slot seems Spoon’s to lose. Another double-digit tackle game and he’ll be assured.

Jeremy Maclin, MU receiver/returner

Already the holder of the NCAA freshman all-purpose yards record. Likely won’t make All-Big 12 first team as a receiver with those honors seemingly reserved for Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree and Kansas State’s Jordy Nelson. But if there is a slot for a kick returner or all-purpose star, Maclin is not only All-Big 12 but possibly All-America.