Illinois-Missouri will suspend annual football series

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

One of the Big 12's most intriguing nonconference series will be suspended as Missouri and Illinois will quit playing their annual game in St. Louis with next year's game.

Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther told the Champaign News-Gazette that the series will be placed "on hiatus" after games in St. Louis this season and next year.

"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."

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

The end of this series robs the Tigers of their most attractive nonconference opponent in recent seasons.

It will be interesting to see who Mike Alden and Gary Pinkel opt to add to replace the Fighting Illini.

My vote would be to play either Iowa or Arkansas on a yearly basis. Those two surrounding neighbors could provide an immediate challenge for Missouri -- likely more pronounced than the Tigers faced with Illinois.

Will Missouri feel comfortable enough in the program's recent growth to schedule that kind of opponent on a consistent basis?

We'll see over the next few years.

Does anybody have any suggestions for a yearly rival they would like to see the Tigers and Pinkel start the season against?