After months of waiting and speculating on how the 2010 football season will turn out, game week is finally here. Today marks the beginning of a weekly series in which I will breakdown Illinois’ opponent throughout the week. I’m going to look all aspects of the matchup and then ultimately give you my prediction, feel free to give yours as well.
For the last time in a while, the Illini will start off against rival Mizzou in the Arch Rivalry game. Missouri has owned the series since it was moved to St. Louis in 2002, but the Illini are looking to end the current contract on a high note.
Overall Series: 16-7 Missouri
Last Matchup: Missouri 37, Illinois 9 (2009)
Background: The Illini and Tigers first played each other back in 1896 in St. Louis. The Illini came away with the victory 10-0. The two teams have played sparingly over the past century in home-home series, until moving the game to St. Louis in 2002. The Arch Rivalry has been very successful in St. Louis, despite the Illini’s 0-5 record. This year’s game is the last one on the current contract, making it unknown when the two will play again.
Best Player in Program History: Kellen Winslow, TE (1976-1979). One of the best tight end’s in football history was an All-American for the Tigers in 1979. Winslow was taken in the first round by the San Diego Chargers and is in both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
My Favorite Tiger: Chase Daniel, QB (2005-2008). As much as I hated watching him tear up the Illini, I couldn’t help but enjoy watching Chase Daniel play. Being a high school QB at the time, I couldn’t stop dreaming of playing in a system like Missouri’s with Chase Daniel.
My Most Hated Tiger: Sean Weatherspoon, LB (2006-2009). After hearing his “squeeze the Juice” comments last season, I don’t think any Illini fans liked this guy. Only problem was, he was right.
Favorite Illini-Mizzou Moment: Vonte Davis’ blocked punt for a TD (2007). After deciding at the very last minute, Southey and I made the trip to St. Louis for the game. Our tickets were on the Missouri side, right on the 15 yard line, a perfect spot to see Vonte fly through and spike the punt out of the air. (the end of the game would be my worst moment, 40-34 Mizzou).
Reasons to Like Mizzou:
1. The Golden Girls. No, not Joe Pa’s favorite show, but the Missouri University dance team. Need I say more?
2. It’s fun to play your rivals. I like nothing better than to start the season with a rivalry game like the Illini and Tigers have been doing the past five years. Opening up against Western Illinois is safe, but pretty dang boring.
Reasons to Hate Mizzou:
1. Illini 0-5 vs. Mizzou the past 5 years. Like I said, it’s fun to play a rival, but when you consistently lose to that same team and watch the same fans rub it in your face every year, things get heated. Just ask Missouri fans how that was in basketball until last season. This game is personal.
2. Quinn Synder, Missouri basketball coach (1999-2006). I know, this is supposed to be about football, but how can I resist when you put “hate” and “Mizzou” in the same sentence? Synder was like John Callapari’s little cousin. Both earn the title of cheating slime-balls.
Reason to Laugh at Mizzou:
1. The Missouri football team sure has kept Columbia police busy this summer. Linebacker Will Ebner received a DUI this offseason and is not on the depth chart for this Saturday’s game. O-line coach Bruce Walker was arrested for DUI as well. Top that off with starting running back Derrick Washington’s sexual assault accusation, and you have the Cincinnati Bengals of the NCAA.