Big Ten

Big Ten Power Rankings: Here comes Michigan

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Big Ten Power Rankings: Here comes Michigan

Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines turning around in a hurry.

Michigan is 3-1 after shutting out BYU in dominating fashion, and that has the Wolverines looking like a real factor in the Big Ten East.

With Michigan on the rise, here's a look at this week's Big Ten Power Rankings:

1. Michigan State Spartans (4-0, 0-0)

Last week: 1

Sparty is still on top after what could’ve been the same kind of moment Ohio State had in Week 3. Michigan State led Central Michigan by just a touchdown late until a pair of Gerald Holmes scoring rushes made it a 20-point game. Those couple touchdowns were a big deal aesthetically, showing the Spartans’ offense is still more than capable as the banged-up Spartans’ defense — except, of course, Shilique Calhoun — continues to look a little shaky.

[MORE BIG TEN: Spartans improve to 4-0 with 20-point win vs. Central Michigan]

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0, 0-0)

Last week: 2

Cardale Jones and the Buckeyes’ offense got back on track in a 38-12 win over Western Michigan. Jones threw for 288 yards and a couple of long touchdowns to ease the panic over an offense that was miserable just a week earlier. The defense continued to play well, scoring a touchdown for the third straight game. But all the attention is on the offense, which admittedly is far from perfect. Jones was plagued by underthrows, one resulting in yet another interception.

[MORE BIG TEN: Cardale Jones bounces back nicely in Buckeyes' win over Western Michigan]

3. Northwestern Wildcats (4-0, 0-0)

Last week: 3

The Northwestern defense, after suffocating performances against Stanford and Duke, allowed the biggest day of the season to … Ball State? Three Clayton Thorson turnovers didn’t help his defense out much, but Northwestern is still looking like the cream of the Big Ten West crop. Thorson, even with the turnovers, threw for three touchdown passes, and running back Justin Jackson had a career-high 184 rushing yards. Plus, that defense still looks stellar.

[MORE BIG TEN: Thorson throws three TDs as Northwestern stays perfect at 4-0]

4. Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0, 0-0)

Last week: 4

The best offense in the Big Ten through four weeks might belong to the Hawkeyes, as it was the most monstrous point-producing day yet for this new-look Iowa team. The Hawks rolled up 62 points on lowly North Texas, with Jordan Canzeri matching a school record with four touchdown runs. And C.J. Beathard continued his excellent start with 278 yards and a pair of touchdown pitches. A real test comes this week against Wisconsin, but Iowa is looking totally legit.

[MORE BIG TEN: Michigan into AP poll at No. 22, Northwestern up to No. 16]

5. Michigan Wolverines (3-1, 0-0)

Last week: 7

Speaking of legit, are the Wolverines a legitimate factor in the packed Big Ten East race following their 31-0 thumping of BYU? It would seem so. The defense remains terrific, one of the nation's best, shutting out the Cougars on Saturday while allowing just 105 total yards. And a talented stable of running backs is finally breaking out with the Michigan offensive line no longer a shambles. The Wolverines rank in the top five in the conference in rushing with more than 200 yards a game.

[MORE BIG TEN: Dominant on both sides, Michigan makes statement in crushing BYU]

6. Wisconsin Badgers (3-1, 0-0)

Last week: 6

Taiwan Deal and Dare Ogunbowale made the Corey Clement injury seem like not that big a deal (no pun intended) for at least one week, running all over Hawaii. But that was Hawaii, and we’ve yet to find out much about the Badgers thanks to a schedule that featured a loss to Alabama and blowout wins over Miami (Ohio), Troy and Hawaii. The conference-opener against Iowa ought to show us what the Badgers are really made of, which I’m assuming is a pretty talented defense.

[MORE BIG TEN: Behind Deal, Ogunbowale, Badgers' running game gets back on track in win over Hawaii]

7. Indiana Hoosiers (4-0, 0-0)

Last week: 9

Time for the undefeated Hoosiers to get some love, especially while it’s likely they’ll only remain undefeated for another five days. A tough conference-opening game against Ohio State awaits, which figures to bump Indiana from the ranks of the loss-less. That being said, it’s a terrific accomplishment for a program that hasn’t started 4-0 since 1990. And it means the Hoosiers are just two wins away from their first bowl trip since 2007 and second since 1993.

[MORE BIG TEN: Hoosiers beat Wake Forest for first 4-0 start since 1990]

8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-1, 0-0)

Last week: 5

One of the best defenses in the conference still has one of the least-successful offenses, but the Gophers at least found something on that side of the ball Saturday, enough to score a tight victory over Ohio. A final-minute touchdown was the game-winning play, as well as Shannon Brooks’ second rushing TD of the game. The Gophers haven’t exactly replaced David Cobb just yet, but they might be on to something with the rushing tandem of Rodney Smith and Brooks.

[MORE BIG TEN: Gophers survive another MAC foe, beat Ohio in final minute]

9. Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1, 1-0)

Last week: 8

Penn State’s win over San Diego State was the kind of game Penn State has been waiting for. It got a solid performance out of Christian Hackenberg, who threw for nearly 300 yards and pitched a trio of touchdown passes. Sequin Barkley was again great, if limited by an injury. And the defense was again stellar, even getting a touchdown thanks to Austin Johnson’s 71-yard fumble return. The Lions will gladly take those 37 points and look to be back on track after that disastrous Week 1 loss.

[MORE BIG TEN: All 323 pounds of Penn State's Austin Johnson go 71 yards on fumble-return TD]

10. Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-2, 0-0)

Last week: 10

Nebraska’s getting in the habit of not making things easy. Two losses have come by the thinnest of margins on the final plays of those games. And what could have been an easy win over Southern Miss became anything but as the Huskers had to sweat out a late Golden Eagles comeback. While Tommy Armstrong is doing a bang-up job leading the Nebraska offense, that defense cannot get it together, allowing four 300-yard passing days in four games, including 447 yards to Southern Miss.

[MORE BIG TEN: After beating Terps, Purdue, Bowling Green ribs Big Ten with celebratory T-shirt]

11. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1, 0-0)

Last week: 11

A win is a win, but for Illinois fans and observers, they don’t get much less satisfying than what happened against Middle Tennessee State. The Illini needed a late 51-yard field goal to take a two-point lead before the Illini defense allowed MTSU to march right down the field, only for the Blue Raiders to miss a 43-yard field goal that would’ve cost Illinois the game. Yeesh. The Illini offense is out of sync right now. Thankfully the even more out of sync Nebraska pass defense visits Champaign this weekend.

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini narrowly avoid defeat against Middle Tennessee State]

12. Purdue Boilermakers (1-3, 0-0)

Last week: 13

It was yet another crushing loss for Purdue on Saturday against Bowling Green, a team that now has two Big Ten wins this season. David Blough was sensational in his first start, throwing for 340 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But a missed try at a go-ahead field goal was followed by a lightning-quick Bowling Green go-ahead touchdown drive to send the Boilers to their third loss. Blough’s performance, however, was as big a bright side as Purdue has had in a while.

[MORE BIG TEN:  David Blough impresses, but Purdue suffers crushing loss to Bowling Green]

13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-2, 0-1)

Last week: 14

Congratulations, Rutgers, you beat Kansas. Hardly a resume-building win, but a team in as much turmoil as Rutgers will surely take it. The Knights have one game remaining in Kyle Flood’s three-game suspension, but it’s still uncertain when or if star wideout Leonte Carroo will return and now defensive lineman Darius Hamilton is done for the season. Up against Big Ten defenses, we’ll likely see more of what we saw the Knights do against Penn State — nothing — than what they did against lowly Kansas.

[MORE BIG TEN: Randy Edsall: Terps sticking with Caleb Rowe at quarterback]

14. Maryland Terrapins (2-2, 0-0)

Last week: 12

Maryland was crushed Saturday, 45-6, and it was as ugly as it sounds. The immediate fallout, other than showing that it’s going to be a long season in College Park, is at the quarterback position. In just his second game of this season as the starting QB, Caleb Rowe threw four interceptions and no touchdowns, getting yanked for Daxx Garman. This after Rowe replaced Perry Hills earlier in the season. Maryland’s sticking with Rowe against Michigan, but he’s got to start taking care of the ball.

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

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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

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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.