Kansas entered the first two Border Wars qualified for a bowl game, and last season's contest against Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium needing a victory to qualify for a bowl along with the Mark Mangino drama.
On Saturday, the Jayhawks had little outside of the rivalry itself to generate excitement, and that wasn't enough in a 35-7 loss to the 15th-ranked Tigers.
There was a fashion statement — tidy whites from helmet to socks for the first time since 1978.
But mostly, Kansas played like a team that wanted to put 2010 records of 3-9 overall, 1-7 in the Big 12 and last place in the North Division in the books and start thinking about 2011.
Jayhawks coach Turner Gill can already describe next year's team without seeing it.
"They're going to be stronger, faster," Gill said. "We're going to put a team out there eventually that will have speed, be physical and athletic."
Some of those players were on the field Saturday. Some, like defensive back Keeston Terry, linebacker Huldon Tharp and offensive tackle Jeff Spikes, barely got started or not at all because of season- ending injuries. Others will join the program. Gill can't talk recruiting specifically, but he'll be looking to finalize a class that already has as many as 18 commitments.
It's not known whether next year's starting quarterback is on the current roster.
Redshirt freshman and Missourian Jordan Webb, who started six games earlier this season before missing most of the previous four because of a shoulder injury, got the Border War start and was harassed most of the day.
Webb completed 7 of 20 passes for 45 yards and threw two interceptions. He was sacked five times, including on Kansas' first and third snaps of the game. After Webb suffered a concussion, Quinn Mecham took over and his only pass that didn't end up on the turf was intercepted.
Asked to sum up his team's quarterback play this season, Gill didn't apply sugar.
"I would say at best, maybe OK," he said. "It was enough, game after game, time after time, on a consistent basis. We saw a spark here or there."
Kansas' only playmaking spark Saturday was running back James Sims. He rushed for 82 yards and the Jayhawks' only touchdown, a 3-yard blast midway through the third quarter that cut the deficit to 21-7.
At the time, Kansas' defense had turned a corner. After surrendering Mizzou touchdowns on three of the first four possessions, the Jayhawks came up with three straight stops, two on interceptions by Greg Brown and Bradley McDougald, the former wide receiver playing his second game at safety.
"I feel like we made some adjustments and came back strong to make some plays," Brown said.
But Kansas didn't gain momentum from the score. Missouri answered with a 73-yard scoring drive and took a three-touchdown lead into the fourth quarter.
A Jayhawks offense that hadn't produced much in three quarters provided even less in the fourth. Kansas had four possessions in the quarter and gained a total of four yards. For the day, the Jayhawks were held to 141 yards.
And a Border War that had given full houses or close to full houses at Arrowhead in the first three years, wound down with a lopsided margin as the 55,788 started clearing out early.
Odds were stacked against Kansas from the outset, with the messy Mangino departure, plus replacing most of the team's offensive playmakers. The program got jolted by its opening-game loss to North Dakota State and finished with the league's worst record.
"I thought we'd win four straight bowls, win a division championship while I was here," senior safety Chris Harris said. "It's kind of hard."