Big Ten

Big Ten poll update: AP voters, coaches place four Big Ten teams in top 10


Big Ten poll update: AP voters, coaches place four Big Ten teams in top 10

If AP and coaches poll rankings are your metric of choice, it's hard to argue that any conference is as good as the Big Ten right now.

Four Big Ten teams landed in the top 10 of both the AP and coaches polls when the new sets of rankings were released Sunday afternoon.

It's important to keep in mind, of course, that these polls have no impact on which teams will compete for a national championship. The rankings that do make their debut Tuesday, when the College Football Playoff selection committee release their first rankings of the season.

Michigan, which scored a hard-fought but still dominant win over in-state rival Michigan State on Saturday, kept its No. 2 spot in both polls. The Wolverines are the Big Ten's lone remaining undefeated team, at 8-0 as they appear to be barnstorming toward a Big Ten East Division title, a spot in the conference title game and a berth in the College Football Playoff. Of course, the regular-season finale with Ohio State will be a determining factor in all of those quests, but right now few teams in the country are playing better than Michigan, which ranks No. 1 in college football in scoring defense and No. 3 in scoring offense.

Aforementioned Ohio State improved to 7-1 with a narrow win over Northwestern on Saturday and ranked No. 6 in both polls Sunday, maintaining its spot in the AP and moving up two slots in the coaches. The Buckeyes are not looking like the dominant force they appeared to be through the season's first few games, clearly needing every last drop to get through the last three games against Wisconsin, Penn State and Northwestern — two wins by a total of 11 points and a loss in Happy Valley. Another huge test awaits next weekend against Nebraska.

Wisconsin, which scored its third win of the season over a top-10 opponent Saturday by beating Nebraska, 23-17, in overtime, moved up three spots from No. 11 to No. 8 in both sets of rankings. The Badgers' defense continues to wow, ranking third in the country in scoring defense and ninth in total defense. Wisconsin has another challenge coming up next weekend, on the road at Northwestern. The Badgers will still need some help from the Huskers to make the Big Ten title game, as the Huskers have just one conference loss compared to the Badgers' two. But Wisconsin should feel good about its College Football Playoff resume, with its lone losses coming to top-six teams in Michigan and Ohio State.

Nebraska is still in the driver's seat of the Big Ten West Division standings despite losing its undefeated season Saturday in Madison. The Huskers dropped in both polls Sunday, down from No. 7 to No. 9 in the AP poll and down from No. 6 to No. 10 in the coaches. If the season ended today, Nebraska would be heading to Indy, but next weekend's trip to Columbus could change all that. Still, the Huskers proved Saturday they're playing championship-caliber football and are definitely still in the running for a Playoff berth.

Penn State was the fifth Big Ten team in the top-25 rankings this week, up from No. 24 to No. 20 in the AP poll and into the coaches poll at No. 23. The Nittany Lions, thanks to a tiebreaker after that win over Ohio State, still sit in second place in the Big Ten East Division standings.

Northwestern and Minnesota both received votes in this week's coaches poll.

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.