Owners of a 6-5 record headed into Saturday’s season finale against the Northwestern Wildcats at Memorial Stadium, the Illinois Fighting Illini have already clinched their first bowl berth since the 2014 season.
Winning as many B1G games this year (four) as his first three seasons combined, 2019 has easily been the high point of Lovie Smith’s tenure in Champaign.
Perhaps seeing this turnaround looming, the Illinois athletic department kicked off a $100,000 initiative in August by placing 11 billboards around the Chicago and St. Louis areas, per the Champaign News-Gazette.
CollegeFootballTalk shared further information on Twitter:
Illinois dropped $100,000 on billboards around St. Louis and Chicago https://t.co/g5qG3heQvt
— CollegeFootballTalk (@CFTalk) November 27, 2019
Ranking 84th nationally and 13th in the B1G according to the 247Sports Composite, Smith’s 2020 class currently features nine verbal commits. Of these nine, four hail from either Illinois or Missouri.
Competing for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk from 1945-2008, the Illini and Northwestern have met 112 times. First squaring off in 1892, Illinois leads the all-time series, 55-52-5.
The Wildcats, however, have won six of the last seven clashes, including four straight.
Saturday’s action will kick at 12:00PM ET on FS1.