Wisconsin Illinois Football

Illinois quarterback Cam Thomas (10) may be available for the Illini Saturday against Northwestern after missing the previous two games.

Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN – It may never become as spicy as the annual Braggin’ Rights basketball showdown, but Illinois and Missouri are renewing their football rivalry.

Don’t get in line for tickets just yet.

The four-year arrangement won’t begin until 2026 and, for now, won’t be played on a neutral site field in St. Louis.

The September games are scheduled for Memorial Stadium in Champaign in 2026 and 2028. In 2027 and 2029, the game will be played in Columbia, Mo.

Illini AD Josh Whitman said he and Missouri AD Jim Sterk are leaving the door open to possibly playing two of the games in St. Louis. But uncertainty about the future of the downtown dome and the difficulty of staging a September game at Busch Stadium make committing to a St. Louis game impossible for now.

“The biggest challenge (to playing in St. Louis) is that we don’t know right now exactly where we would play,” Whitman said. “We’ll take a look as the date draws near.”

Illinois and Missouri met at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis in 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 with Missouri winning all six games.

The schools also played games on campus in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994 with the Illini winning in 1992 and 1994.

Whitman said college football scheduling is done far into the future, thus the delayed start to the renewed series.

He also said Missouri makes sense as Illinois tries to create future schedules that include non-conference games against one Power 5 conference opponent, one Group of 5 team and one FCS opponent.

WHO’S AT QB NOW? – After coming up short-handed with all three scholarship quarterbacks nursing injuries late in last week’s game at Ohio State, coach Lovie Smith was asked Monday who will call signals in the season finale Saturday against Northwestern.

Smith wouldn’t say for sure, but he did say freshman Cam Thomas is likely to be available after missing two weeks with a concussion.

“(Thomas) was close last week,” Smith said. “We think he will be good to go. If we don’t have any setbacks, that should happen.”

He also said Jeff George Jr. might be available after sitting out last week with a thumb injury.

Chayce Crouch, who was the quarterback most of the way against Ohio State, was injured in the fourth quarter and was on crutches after the game. Smith called it a bruised knee Monday.

When Crouch went out, Illinois turned to walkon Cam Miller, who came in and promptly ran nine yards for a touchdown, giving the Illini something to celebrate in an otherwise gloomy 52-14 loss.

It will be senior day for the nine seniors on the Illini roster, only three of which were healthy enough to play at Ohio State (James Crawford, Jaylen Dunlap and Chrsitian DiLauro). The game kicks off at 3 p.m. and will be televised by FS1.

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Executive Sports Editor

Executive Sports Editor for the Herald & Review

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