Illinois and Missouri have met on the football field 24 times in their history, but haven't played since 2010. That could change soon if the St. Louis Sports Commission gets its way.
The commission would really like to start a bowl game or a neutral site matchup to be played annually at the Edward Jones Dome, and according to president Frank Viverito, an annual matchup between Illinois and Missouri would be ideal.
"I still think it would be the most successful college football endeavor that we can undertake," Viverito told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Yes, we're in discussions. It would be whatever the schools want it to be: two years or four years, alternate between St. Louis and Chicago or alternate between Champaign, Columbia and St. Louis. We just feel we bring something to the table to produce that game here relative to atmosphere, revenue and tradition. Both athletic directors have indicated a willingness to look at the game."
From 2002 to 2010 the Illini and Mizzou played in St. Louis six times, and while Missouri won each one of those matchups, I know I still enjoyed them. Though wins would have helped me enjoy them more.
However, the reason I like the game is that because the Illini don't really have any true rivals as a football team. Yeah, there's Northwestern, but that's more of a manufactured rivalry than a real one. And while Illini fans tend to view both Michigan and Ohio State as rivals, the feeling really isn't mutual.
Rivalries are something we're in need of that could help make football that much more popular around these parts. It's one of the reasons I'm so happy about the Illini being moved west with schools like Iowa, Wisconsin and even Nebraska. Those are schools where rivalries can come about naturally given the similarities between the schools.
An annual game with Mizzou would no doubt do the same. The feelings are already there thanks to basketball, so it shouldn't be hard to transfer them to football. Especially since there's already the recent history.
Plus, once the Big Ten goes to nine games and the FCS schools are dropped, there aren't many better "marquee" non-conference matchups available to the Illini, at least, not that make a whole lot of sense. It'd be nice to not only beat Missouri on the football field, but be able to claim a victory over the SEC when we do so.
Making it an annual occurrence just makes too much sense.