Big Ten

At 5-7, Huskers are going bowling; Gophers, Illini, too?


At 5-7, Huskers are going bowling; Gophers, Illini, too?

Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois all failed to record the requisite six wins to become bowl eligible. But that's not going to prevent them from making postseason appearances.

After last week wrapped up, math dictated that there weren't going to be enough six-win teams to fill the 80 bowl spots in the 40 bowl games this postseason. That means 5-7 teams will be playing in bowls. How many still remains to be determined: It will for sure be two, it could be as many as five.

The NCAA announced Monday afternoon that which 5-7 teams become first in line for vacant bowl spots will be determined by APR, or Academic Progress Rate.

And, among teams with five wins, guess who's No. 1 when it comes to APR? Nebraska.

Yes, the Huskers are going bowling.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Huskers gear right here]

And other Big Ten teams might not be far behind.

Missouri ranked second in APR, though the Tigers announced they wouldn't accept a bowl invitation, what with their ongoing search for a new head football coach. That puts Kansas State next in line, though the Wildcats are among three teams playing this weekend that could reach the six-win mark, so they're in regardless of this weekend's outcome. If K-State wins, it's in with its six wins. If it loses, it's in thanks to its APR ranking, and a third spot for a five-win team would open up.

Next in line? Bingo, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. But the Gophers aren't exactly guaranteed a postseason berth at this time because they're tied in APR with San Jose State. If the other two five-win teams playing this weekend — Georgia State and South Alabama — both win, then there would need to be some sort of tiebreaker to pick between Minnesota and San Jose State. But if either of those teams lose, both the Gophers and the Spartans would be in.

If both Georgia State and South Alabama lose, that could open the door for another Big Ten team, Illinois. The Illini rank behind Minnesota and San Jose State in APR, tied with Rice. If there are five open slots for 5-7 teams, it would be down to the Illini and Owls for the final spot.

The teams can of course do what Missouri did and turn down bowl invitations. But coaches are typically so ecstatic to have a month of extra practices and a postseason experience for their players, that it seems generally unlikely.

(h/t to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, who provided the pertinent APR rankings in a story this weekend)

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal


Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.