Banner wars over the skies at Arrowhead Stadium

December, 6, 2008
12/06/08
7:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Forget record-setting offenses and a slew of top quarterbacks. The Big 12 is becoming just as well known for its pre-game flyovers as anything else.

Texas fans made their presence well known tonight. A plane flew over the stadium a couple of hours before the kickoff with the banner "Enjoy the BeatbyTexas.com Bowl." Texas had beaten both teams by double-digit margins earlier this season.

The Web site Longhorn Nation revealed the rationale behind the flyover, which comes after similar spectacles at Austin and Stillwater during games last week. Another flyover lampooned Mack Brown on Thursday over the Texas campus.

It will be interesting if any other airplanes come by during the rest of the game. An even more dramatic point could be made if one of the groups decided to rent a blimp for its message delivery.

Here are some other late factors as we get ready for kickoff, about 30 minutes away.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: The conference's championship and an automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series will be contested. Oklahoma can likely cement a chance to play in the BCS championship with a triumph. It would be a record third-straight Big 12 championship for the Sooners and would also provide Bob Stoops his sixth Big 12 championship. No other coach in league history has won more than one title.

And despite disappointment from a 9-3 season, Missouri can claim their first Big 12 title and also their first BCS berth in school history with an upset tonight. They would be headed for the Fiesta Bowl with the win.

The loser of the tonight's game could slide all the way to the Alamo Bowl, although Oklahoma might be able to squeeze its way into the Cotton Bowl if it should lose tonight.

One other item to note. Missouri is the biggest underdog in Big 12 conference history.

WEATHER: It's going to be cold tonight at Arrowhead Stadium, but not as frigid as for some previous Big 12 title games. The game-time temperature is 32 degrees with a wind chill in the mid-20s. The temperature will slide below freezing as the game continues. The wind will be coming from the northwest at about 10 mph, so it could be a factor. There is no chance of precipitation.

Most importantly, the Arrowhead Stadium field looks to be in good shape. After turning soupy during the rain and snow at the end of last week's Missouri-Kansas game here, the Kansas City Chiefs' ground crew has done a masterful job of getting the turf back in shape. It looks like it's ready to go.

INJURIES: The biggest concern for Oklahoma is the loss of starting linebacker Austin Box, who sprained his knee against Oklahoma State last week. Construction-worker-turned-Sooner Mike Balogun apparently will get the start, although Travis Lewis might get more snaps in the middle and linebacker Nic Harris could switch from safety. Top Oklahoma pass rusher Auston English has looked sturdy in pre-game warm-ups and could return to the game for up to 20 to 25 snaps. And Sam Bradford's damaged thumb ligament on his non-throwing hand has been stabilized with a splint. He has been passing normally during the pre-game throws I've seen.

Missouri will be missing starting cornerback Castine Bridges, who sustained a season-ending knee injury last week against Kansas. Undersized senior replacement Tru Vaughns will get the first start of his career tonight in his place.

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