Big Ten

Clayton Thorson has big game as Northwestern gets first win

Clayton Thorson has big game as Northwestern gets first win

The first two weeks were ugly ones for Northwestern. A struggling offense couldn't do much in two gut-wrenching losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State.

So, naturally, when a team from a Power Five conference came to Evanston on Saturday, the Wildcats stepped up.

Clayton Thorson had a career day, throwing for 320 yards and three touchdowns as Northwestern picked up its first win of the season, a 24-13 victory over Duke.

Despite a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive by the Cats on their game-opening drive, this one was routinely low-scoring through the first half. Thorson pitched a 26-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Dickerson to cap that drive, but that was it as far as points for the remainder of the two opening quarters. Duke followed up with a second-quarter touchdown, and the squads were knotted at 7 at the half.

But Northwestern scored the game's next 17 points, Thorson tossing a couple of big touchdown passes, one for 44 yards to Solomon Vault and a second to Austin Carr for 58 yards. Throw a Jack Mitchell field goal in there, and Duke's lone second-half score — a one-yard touchdown run in the game's final minute — was nowhere near enough.

The Cats ended the game with 406 yards of offense, Thorson starring with his 320 yards and three touchdowns, though he did also throw a pair of interceptions. Justin Jackson, whose day ended early in last weekend's loss, got back on track a bit with 94 yards on 28 carries. Carr had a massive night, catching six passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.

The Northwestern defense let up nearly 400 yards but did a fine job of keeping Duke out of the end zone. The Cats forced a pair of turnovers and allowed 5.7 yards per pass compared to Thorson averaging 8.2 yards per pass against the Blue Devil defense.

The win sent the Cats to 1-2 on the season, certainly not where the team though it would be after three home games against non-conference opponents. But any win following those two ghastly season-opening defeats is a welcome one.

Northwestern opens Big Ten play next weekend against Nebraska.

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.