Published on June 8th, 2013 | by John Heniff, Staff writer
Can Missouri and Illinois be rivals again?
With the future of the Border War between the University of Kansas and University of Missouri unknown at best, Missouri fans are anxious to see another football rivalry arise. For this one, Missouri might have to look towards the East instead by rekindling a football rivalry with the University of Illinois.
Since 1896, Illinois and Missouri have played on an intermittent basis in football. The most recent matchup was a 23-13 win for Missouri on Sept. 4, 2010.
Recently, Frank Viverito of the St. Louis Sports Commission expressed interest in reviving the series in the near future.
“Yes, we’re in discussions,” said Viverito. “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.”
On the hardwood, the rivalry has been an annual clash since 1980. Every December, students, alumni and fans of the Tigers and the Fighting Illini pack the Scottrade Center in St. Louis for the Braggin’ Rights basketball game. The intense matchup takes place at neutral site in between Columbia and Champaign-Urbana.
Although there is a push for another installment of the rivalry in football, many Illinois fans don’t consider the game to be a worthy rivalry for a plethora of reasons. Illinois has a 20-12 edge in basketball, but the games are usually hard-fought contests that are decided by only a few points. However, Missouri’s 17-7 series lead in football is slightly more decisive, and many of the games have been blowouts. Additionally, Illinois isn’t known as much for football as it is for basketball. This differs from Missouri, a school that has been successful in both sports.
On the other hand, the rivalry can bring many positives to both schools. A heated rivalry game would easily launch a sellout of the newly renovated Faurot Field in the near future, and would also bring new business to various shops all around Columbia and Champaign-Urbana. Additionally, Corey Rudd of STLSportsMinute.com added that Illinois would provide Missouri with difficult competition before they faced began a dominant Southeastern Conference schedule.
“Beating cupcakes is fun, but Mizzou must be able to prepare for the challenges the SEC regular season holds and Illinois would prepare the Tigers the most,” said Ridd. “Anytime the program can get premium exposure in front of the school’s biggest metro area, the Tigers must do so.”
Alongside the push for Missouri-Illinois, the SEC recently announced that Missouri would play Arkansas on a permanent basis in football. The Razorbacks will become Missouri’s only permanent SEC West opponent, meaning that the Tigers will only face one new opponent from that division each year.
Can a reinstated Missouri-Illinois rivalry work in the future? Perhaps, but two major changes should be implemented. First, it would help if one of the two schools added an exuberant personality to bring even more excitement to the field. A charismatic coach such as former head basketball coach Norm Stewart or a star player like former quarterback Chase Daniel is the shot in the arm any rivalry like this needs to really get going.
Secondly, the universities should rotate home stadiums instead of using a neutral site. A game at either Faurot Field in Columbia or Memorial Stadium in Champaign-Urbana would bring out the die-hard fans in a spectacular outdoor spectacle in two esteemed college towns.
In the meantime, Arkansas will have to do. In the future, maybe we will see this rivalry come to fruition St. Louis, Chicago, Columbia or Champaign-Urbana. The border may be different, but it no way replaces the pure hatred and competition that was the Border War. Looking up at the scoreboard at Faurot Field, it will say Arkansas. Yet for the Missouri faithful, the last six letters of their new rival seem rather familiar.