Missouri has had to shed a lot of natural rivals in leaving the Big 12 for the SEC a few years ago.
The fits with some of the other conference teams have not quite fit in despite the Tigers’ surprise success in the SEC East in a few short years.
Now that Missouri is finding its fit, it might be time to renew some of the rivalries they lost. Especially one that was cut off rather suddenly and had nothing to do with the Big 12 move.
That would be the border rivalry with Illinois, the annual game that used to be played in nearby St. Louis.
New Illinois coach Lovie Smith is hoping the two teams will be able to renew the rivalry soon.
“I’m always in favor of natural rivalry games,” Smith told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “So, yes, we would be in favor of that. We’re gonna be recruiting some of the same players. We’re both probably about the same distance from St. Louis. There’s a reason why that rivalry used to be here, and I’m in favor of bringing all that back.”
The Tigers and Illini have not played each other since 2010. The two teams began meeting almost every year in 2002 with the Tigers winning all six matchups in the nine years they played. Missouri certainly would not mind renewing this rivalry.
The reality is schedules are made up pretty well in advance and so it could be some time before Missouri and Illinois meet on the gridiron.
Missouri does not have an open non-conference date until at least 2019. The two schools though seem open to renewing this rivalry.
And surely both will be looking forward to playing the other as they build their programs up.