Illinois and Missouri will be meeting up quite frequently down the road, as the two programs agreed to a four-game home-and-home series stretching from 2026 through 2029, the schools announced Monday.
The series will begin on Sept. 26, 2026 in Champaign, Ill., and conclude Sept. 15, 2029 in Columbia, Mo., with alternating home sites in between.
“We are pleased to re-establish the football rivalry series against Missouri,” Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said. “As our football program advances, it is important that we build our nonconference schedule accordingly. The opportunity to compete against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference and to play a geographic rival like Missouri will be exciting for our players, coaches, and fans. I want to thank Missouri Director of Athletics Jim Sterk and his staff for their collaboration. We look forward to a spirited series.”
Sterk seconded Whitman’s sentiments in his own statement, declaring his belief that the renewal of the rivalry series will excite Tigers fans.
Illinois leads the rivalry 17-7, however Missouri holds a six-game winning streak in the series with the last win coming on Sept. 4, 2010.
Fantastic move by Whitman. The bragging rights game between the Illinois and Missouri basketball teams has be fantastic for the last 10 years. Only three times has the game been won by more than 10 points. The series is 6-4 in the same decade and 31-16 over all. both favoring Illinois. Until Bell Self and Bruce Weber, led the Illini to a 8-year win streak, the series was pretty even at 11-8.
Bringing this rivalry over to football is a great move. The CFP critics weigh the strength of schedule heavily and leave undefeated teams like Wisconsin out of the rankings. Like Whitman says, this does add depth to the schedule. In the next decade, Illinois has been able to schedule great gamaes included home and home series at USF, UConn, Virginia, Kansas, Duke and now Missouri. If this team continues to develop in Lovie’s scheme, Illinois could build enough stability to play competitively in this SEC series in the next decade.
Illinois have a lot more work to do in the next couple years. Lovie Smith needs to recruit well and build a strong foundation for these games to mean anything. If Illinois is to compete for a national championship in the next decade, there will need to be a change in the team culture. I do think that Lovie is taking them there, but the staff needs to hit the recruiting trail hard after the final game of the season this week against Northwestern.
I cannot wait for this matchup, knowing the history between the two schools. Till then, basketball will have to do, the two play at Scottrade Center on December 23rd, 2017 as the Illini look to keep their 4-game win streak alive.