Idle on September 28, Lovie Smith and the Illinois Fighting Illini are 2-2 headed into their Saturday showdown with the 4-0 Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minneapolis.

Opening their season with consecutive wins over Akron and UConn, Illinois has since lost two straight to Eastern Michigan and Nebraska in their B1G-opener.

In his fourth year at the helm of the program, Smith is just 11-29 in Champaign. According to ESPN+, things could get dicey for the 61-year-old coach and his staff if the Illini fail to qualify for a bowl game for the fifth straight year.

Here’s an excerpt of what ESPN (subscription required) had to say:

“Although Illinois would be on the hook for $4M if it dismisses Smith this season, most industry sources expect a change if the Illini don’t reach a bowl game. Illinois recently has made several major facilities investments to keep pace in an improving B1G West. The results must now come for a program that hasn’t made a bowl game since 2014. Illinois showed some early improvement behind quarterback Brandon Peters, a transfer from Michigan, but after consecutive home losses, this week’s trip to Minnesota is critical. Smith is just 4-24 in B1G play despite being in the more navigable division.”

Unfortunately for Smith & Co., finding four more wins on this schedule is pretty difficult. After traveling to Minneapolis, the Illini return home for a date with No. 19 Michigan (3-1) on October 12. That is followed up by a game with the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (4-0) on October 19.

Saturday’s action from TCF Bank Stadium will kick at 3:30PM ET and be televised on BTN.