Big Ten

Big Ten places four teams in top seven of latest College Football Playoff rankings

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USA TODAY

Big Ten places four teams in top seven of latest College Football Playoff rankings

Four Big Ten teams were ranked in the top seven when the latest College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled Tuesday night.

Ohio State and Michigan remained the second- and third-ranked teams in the country, making this weekend's epic showdown in Columbus a battle between two top-three teams.

Wisconsin moved up to No. 6 and Penn State up to No. 7 after Louisville suffered its second loss of the season this past weekend and tumbled down to No. 11.

The new rankings keep the chances of the Big Ten landing a pair of teams in the Playoff pretty high. If Ohio State beats Michigan this weekend and Penn State wins its regular-season finale against Michigan State, the Nittany Lions will win the Big Ten East Division. If Wisconsin beats Minnesota, it wins the Big Ten West Division. So, in that scenario, the Buckeyes would likely join the Big Ten Championship Game victor in the final four at season's end.

Should a different scenario play out, it still looks like a safe bet that the Big Ten will have one representative in the Playoff.

Ohio State currently sits at 10-1 fresh off a 17-16 win over Michigan State. The Buckeyes can still play for a Big Ten title if they beat the Wolverines this weekend and if Penn State loses. But the selection committee has made it pretty clear that Ohio State would be among its highest-ranked teams even without a conference championship in hand. The Buckeyes have wins over two top-10 teams (Wisconsin and Oklahoma), could score another over Michigan and has just one loss against a top-10 team in Penn State.

Michigan is also 10-1 heading into this titanic edition of The Game. The Wolverines defeated Indiana, 20-10, this past weekend, bouncing back after suffering their first loss of the season a week prior at Iowa. If Michigan wins in Columbus and goes on to defeat the Big Ten West champ in the conference title bout, Jim Harbaugh's team will certainly earn a spot in the Playoff. The Wolverines' resume contains three top-10 wins (Wisconsin, Penn State and Colorado) and could have another over Ohio State.

Wisconsin is short on signature wins now that LSU is outside the top 25 — the best victory came against 16th-ranked Nebraska — but the Badgers have lost just twice and against two of the top-three teams in the country. Should Wisconsin win its regular-season finale and then the Big Ten title game, it would figure to find itself in the Playoff.

Penn State has its landmark victory over No. 2 Ohio State and could find another if it reaches the conference championship game in Indianapolis. The Lions have a good chance of making the trip.

Nebraska was also ranked this week, coming in at No. 16.

Here are the complete top-25 rankings:

1. Alabama
2. Ohio State
3. Michigan
4. Clemson
5. Washington
6. Wisconsin
7. Penn State
8. Oklahoma
9. Colorado
10. Oklahoma State
11. Louisville
12. USC
13. Auburn
14. Florida State
15. Florida
16. Nebraska
17. Tennessee
18. West Virginia
19. Boise State
20. Houston
21. Western Michigan
22. Utah
23. Washington State
24. Stanford
25. Navy

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

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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

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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.