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Game Poster: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Missouri Tigers

They aren't the eighth wonder of the world, but they are our rival.

Aaron Rench

The Braggin' Rights game is upon us. There is no where to hide for either team -- not on campus, not on cable TV, not on Skull Island. This is prime-time holiday tradition born and bred to be based in St. Louis.

I grew up near the Gateway City. I watched McGwire chase 62, the Greatest Show on Turf, and the Cardinals chronic postseason success, but one thing I look forward to every year is the Braggin' Rights game.

The city is the mesh point of the two great fan bases. The Mississippi River divides us in two, making territory part of identity and giving automatic intrigue to every annual contest. It's a two hour drive from Columbia, and a three hour drive from Champaign, but the stands will be full nonetheless.

Most of us grew up here -- we know that the weather here is unbearably hot and humid and extremely icy and cold in any given year, that provel cheese is best eaten pipping hot, or that we're glad we didn't have to pay Pujols. And, whether we chose it or not, we each have an allegiance to one of these great schools.

Both schools have had glimpses of success -- Illinois basketball in '05, Mizzou football in '07, '13, and (I guess) '14 (our glimpse was the closest and best) -- yet neither has made the desired national impact. We're all waiting. Waiting for that one time when the stars finally align. And we all know it could happen, for either side. College sports are fickle and unfair, but the chance of success is more glorifying than any other. But we both deserve it. Just ask any one of us.

Get ready for another round of regional pride.

Mizzou vs. Illinois