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BRAGGIN’ RIGHTS FOOTBALL IS BACK. EVENTUALLY. Mizzou and Illinois agree to 4-year series.

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The schools agreed to begin playing each other again ... in 2026.

University of Illinois Illinois Fighting v University of Missouri Tigers Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Following last week’s announcement of a home-and-home series with Kansas State, on Monday Mizzou announced another fun series: a four-year affair with Illinois. Hell yes.

The one issue: it starts in nine damn years.

A border state football rivalry between Missouri and Illinois that dates to 1896 is scheduled to resume with a four-year home and home football series that will begin in the 2026 season at Champaign, Illinois, school officials announced Monday.

"We are pleased to announce a four-year home and home series with the University of Illinois," said Mizzou Director of Athletics Jim Sterk. "This is another opportunity to renew a great football rivalry that we believe Tiger fans everywhere will be excited about."

Mizzou will travel to Illinois for a September 26, 2026 contest in Champaign, Ill., with the Illini returning the game the following year to Columbia, Mo., on September 18, 2027. The teams will also meet in Champaign on Sept. 16, 2028 before concluding the agreement in Columbia on September 15, 2029.

This is undeniably great news. Local non-conference series are exciting and fun and easy to travel to. That Missouri has not only lined up KSU and Illinois, but lined up home-and-homes for them is wonderful.

But football scheduling these days is absolutely ridiculous. Some conferences (like the Big Ten and Big 12) have moved from eight to nine conference games, which means minimal available slots. Any reservations have to be filled years in advance. I feel more strongly about my “have a massive scheduling meeting at the annual COSIDA convention” idea with every passing year (even if it would require that convention probably move up a few months on the calendar).

But that’s enough complaining.

Mizzou and Illinois have played each other 24 times in football, and the series has been mostly one-sided in Mizzou’s favor. Illinois won the first two games in 1896 and 1913, but the Tigers swept five meetings between 1949-75, took six of 11 between 1976-94, and won each of a six-game series in St. Louis in the 2000s (2002-03, 2007-10). When the teams next play, it will have been 32 years since an Illinois win in the series.

One other note from today’s release, by the way:

In addition to the series with Illinois, Mizzou also announced Monday that it has completed its 2020 football schedule with the addition of a Nov. 21 home game against the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. The Tigers other 2020 non-conference games include home contests with Central Arkansas (Sept. 5) and Eastern Michigan (Sept. 26), in addition to a Nov. 7 game at BYU.

Bring it, Cajuns.