Illinois is 3-3 at the halfway mark. Not where they wanted to be. The Minnesota loss was a big setback to the plan, but they're not panicking, and their fans shouldn't, either. For one thing, Minnesota's better than expected, as will be seen at the end of the year. For another, the Illini are still learning how to win under the burden of expectations. And for another, everything broke right for that surprise Rose Bowl trip last year, just as things are breaking right for Minnesota and Michigan State this year.
In other words, Illinois probably wasn't as good as it looked last year, and it's not as bad as it looks right at the moment.