I’ve made the point before that P5 wins are a zero sum game. Not exactly, since P5 teams load up with Eastern Michigans and then beat them (or not), but once they get to conference games, there’s a winner and a loser for each game (exception might be Notre Dame muddying the water occasionally).
Alabama, tOSU, etc will get more than their fair share of those wins, leaving the Illinis of the world to scrape for what’s left over.
A permanent sea change like Wisconsin under Alvarez is more and more unlikely as the digital world and massive TV coverage serves to cement the current power structure.
The best Illinois can hope for in the immediate future is a range between 4-8 and 8-4. The competition is too well entrenched, and inertia is what it is. As is Lovie.