Nine years ago, the Illinois and Kansas football programs agreed on a home-and-home for the 2023 and 2024 seasons. The Jayhawks defeated the Fighting Illini 34-23 in Lawrence this past September, and they were expected to travel to Champaign next year. However, a recent report from Bleacher Report's Bryson Stricker suggests the second half of the series won't come to fruition.
According to the KU insider, Illinois is having issues with its schedule and wants to replace the Jayhawks with a new opponent. They currently have a TBA (to be announced) school for Week 1 of the 2024 college football season on their website's schedule. Here is the full tweet from Stricker:
"BREAKING: #kufball @ Illinois is no longer happening per an industry source.- Bryson Stricker on X
I am told the Illinois side backed out of the game. The current expectation is to play @ Syracuse in place of that game. No date has been confirmed yet."
He provided more insight a few hours later.
"Illinois has a schedule issue that they need to resolve. It is easier for them to resolve it by not playing KU that week. I am not an Illinois fan so I have no clue what said issue is. Once I went digging I found out from KU/Syracuse side that yes they plan to play."- Bryson Stricker on X
This is certainly an interesting development, especially considering the game had been scheduled for nearly a decade and tickets were already available to be purchased. When the two schools met three months ago, Kansas had a 'blackout' in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and one of the best atmospheres we've seen in quite some time.
Stricker also mentions that Syracuse would be Kansas' new challenger for the team's Week 2 bout. That means that the Illinois game would be replaced with a fellow Power 5 university. The Orange fired head coach Dino Babers this year but squeezed into the Boca Raton Bowl with a 6-6 record. Former Georgia assistant Fran Brown is taking over at the helm next season.
An Illini spokesperson spoke to Jeremy Werner of 247 Sports and disputed these rumors, stating "nothing on the schedule has changed" since the Big Ten released the conference's scheduling matrix in November. Meanwhile, Stricker persists that the university is keeping quiet on the matter to figure out who they will be playing instead. We'll learn over time which side is telling the truth.
Regardless of who KU takes on in Week 2 of next season, it will be a road game against a Power 5 opponent. The Jayhawks also have games scheduled against Lindenwood (Aug. 31) and UNLV (Sept. 14) before conference play begins.