Kudos to Frank Viverito and everyone at the Sports Commission who worked hard to bring back the Mizzou-Illinois rivalry. You couldn't have asked for a more entertaining game to open the college football season. And, the atmosphere at the Dome was incredible.
I know some Mizzou fans are discouraged because the game was so close but I think there are a few reasons for that:
---Rivalry games are usually closer than expected.
--Season openers are notoriously sloppy unless you're playing a team that is thoroughly overmatched. (see Appalachian State's upset of Michigan).
--I suspect Illinois is better than most think. No, they're not bowl-ready and will lose their share in 2007 but I can already see the Ron Zook influence at work. Illinois is already faster, bigger and more physical under Zook. He's a top-notch recruiter. Illinois will be bowl contenders in 2008.
Having said that, I do see two areas of concern regarding Mizzou. I'm not sure how good the offensive and defensive lines are. On offense, Mizzou has a ton of skill but the guys up front hold the key to the season. On defense, I think the linebackers and secondary are capable but I wonder how good the d-line is after losing some key components to graduation.
I'm still optimistic for several reasons including the leadership of quarterback Chase Daniel . If necessary, I think Mizzou can outscore a lot of teams. The big question is--can they outscore Nebraska on October 6th at Faurot Field?