Big Ten

Bovada likes Michigan, Ohio State as Big Ten favorites


Bovada likes Michigan, Ohio State as Big Ten favorites

Well, if Bovada is right, it should be a pretty high-stakes edition of The Game this November.

Bovada's preseason college football odds are out, and the oddsmaker likes Michigan and Ohio State as favorites to win the Big Ten title in 2016, giving the two storied rivals 7-4 odds to win the conference this fall.

The favoritism of the Wolverines and Buckeyes shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Jim Harbaugh worked wonders in his first season at the helm in Ann Arbor, turning a team that missed the postseason in its final season under Brady Hoke into a 10-game winner. And with the vast majority of what was an exceptional defense back this season, there's plenty of reason to put Michigan at the top of any Big Ten projection. But of course Urban Meyer reloads with the best of them, and despite the loss of so many players to the NFL, the return of quarterback J.T. Barrett and others should make for another hard-to-beat Ohio State team this fall.

Michigan State, which also has a lot of departed talent to replace, came in third in Bovada's odds, with the Spartans at 7-1 to win the conference crown.

Iowa, which went undefeated during its 12-game regular-season schedule last season and returns starting quarterback C.J. Beathard and defensive back extraordinaire Desmond King, has 9-1 odds to win the Big Ten.

So too does Nebraska, another team out of the West Division which has a senior quarterback in Tommy Armstrong running the show. The Huskers' status as a team tied for the fourth-best odds to win the conference is interesting following a sub-.500 record in Mike Riley's first season last year.

Bovada doesn't think too highly of the chances of local teams Northwestern and Illinois, giving the Wildcats — who won 10 games last season — 33-1 odds and the Illini 50-1 odds.

But at least they aren't as unlikely to win the league crown as Purdue and Rutgers, who each received 100-1 odds from Bovada.

Here's the complete list of Bovada's odds to win the Big Ten this season.

Michigan: 7-4
Ohio State: 7-4
Michigan State: 7-1
Iowa: 9-1
Nebraska: 9-1
Wisconsin: 14-1
Penn State: 18-1
Northwestern: 33-1
Minnesota: 40-1
Illinois: 50-1
Indiana: 50-1
Maryland: 50-1
Purdue: 100-1
Rutgers: 100-1

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.