Big Ten

Badgers' top wideout Alex Erickson going through concussion protocol

alex-erickson-1005.png

Badgers' top wideout Alex Erickson going through concussion protocol

A week after not getting into the end zone in a loss to Iowa, Wisconsin could be without its top receiver in another division showdown against Nebraska.

Badgers wideout Alex Erickson is still going through concussion protocol, according to head coach Paul Chryst, after a hit in Saturday’s 10-6 loss to the Hawkeyes.

“He is in the concussion protocol," Chryst said Monday. "Talking to him yesterday, he feels better, so we'll find out. But that's — that's exactly it.”

The loss of Erickson would be an important one considering how the Wisconsin offense struggled vs. Iowa. Quarterback Joel Stave turned the ball over four times, fumbling twice and throwing a pair of interceptions. Stave still threw for 234 yards, but none of those yards resulted in touchdowns.

Erickson caught three passes for 30 yards before leaving with the injury. He’s the team’s leading receiver with 26 catches for 350 yards and a touchdown on the season.

[MORE BIG TEN: Buckeyes lose receiver Corey Smith to season-ending injury]

Tight end Austin Traylor was also knocked out of Saturday's game, and Chryst said he won't play against Nebraska. Traylor has 10 catches on the season, three of which have gone for touchdowns.

"The thing that is disappointing to me is that Austin was really playing good football, I think his best," Chryst said, "and Joel actually mentioned it to me the other day, how he's having fun. He'll be out this week, and we'll find out how much more, if any, but those are opportunities you don't get back."

It would certainly be nice to have a full arsenal in the passing game when going up against the Huskers, who have struggled to defend the pass this season. They yielded four straight games of at least 300 passing yards to opponents before Saturday’s loss at Illinois. And despite the Illini staying under the 300-yard mark, a huge 50-yard pass play at game’s end set up a game-winning touchdown pass with 10 seconds left. Illinois receivers also dropped six passes in that game, which could have meant a fifth straight 300-plus-yard game for the Nebraska pass defense, which still ranks as the Big Ten’s worst.

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

jeremy_larkin.jpg
USA TODAY

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

anderson.jpg
USA TODAY

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.