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Monday, June 1, 2009
Illinois, Mizzou to suspend St. Louis series

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Despite Missouri's dominance in the win column, the Missouri-Illinois matchup in St. Louis has been one of the Midwest's more anticipated opening games the last two years.

But after meeting in St. Louis this fall and in 2010, the two schools have agreed to suspend their series. Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther told The (Champaign) News-Gazette that a desire to regularly schedule seven home games in the newly renovated Memorial Stadium made the Missouri series less realistic.

"Eventually, we might resume it on a home-and-home basis, or perhaps return to St. Louis, but we have been leaning toward games on campus at some point in the future," Guenther said. "This has been a big-time game that draws good income and TV coverage. With all that said, since we want to get to seven or eight home games, you have to evaluate the neutral game."

Illinois' 2009 schedule should excite fans and media members, with a neutral-site game against Missouri, a road game at Cincinnati and a December home contest against Fresno State. But it isn't exactly what Guenther or head coach Ron Zook had in mind, especially as their Big Ten counterparts play much less challenging slates. 

Missouri and Illinois have met six times in St. Louis, with Missouri claiming the last five meetings. The teams met at campus sites from 1976-80, 1983-84 and 1991-94.

This move was anticipated for some time, and here's hoping the schools can work out a future agreement for a home-and-home series. Though it would be great for the St. Louis series to continue, Illinois needs revenue to keep pace with teams like Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, which will always play seven home games in much larger stadiums (meaning more $$$).