Big Ten

Connor Cook looks to again be a game-time decision for Spartans

connor-cook-1122.png

Connor Cook looks to again be a game-time decision for Spartans

After Michigan State won its biggest game of the season without its starting quarterback last weekend, it's unsure if Connor Cook will play this weekend when the Spartans try to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Cook, Michigan State's senior signal-caller who sat out the win over Ohio State a week after suffering a shoulder injury against Maryland, was listed as a co-starter with backup Tyler O'Connor when the Spartans released their depth chart for this week's game on Tuesday. If healthy, obviously Cook would start, but an "or" when referring to who the starter will be means at this point, Cook's availability still remains up in the air.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said in an on-field interview immediately following last weekend's game that he thought Cook would be ready to play in the regular-season finale against Penn State but that it was still a day-to-day thing. Dantonio famously refuses to talk about injuries, so specifics on Cook's availability were pretty non-existent during his weekly press conference Tuesday.

[MORE BIG TEN: Tight finishes finally going Northwestern's way with 10 wins in sight]

But when asked whether there could be a situation in which Cook plays exclusively or just a little in conjunction with backups O'Connor and Damion Terry depending on his level of health, Dantonio at least provided an answer, making it seem like for the second straight week, Cook will be a game-time decision.

"I think there is a possibility for all those certainly. We'll see how it all shakes out," Dantonio said. "It's sort of hard to say when we're sitting (here) because Tuesday, (haven't) practiced (yet), don't know. So I would assume that things are moving forward.

"It's hard to assess those things until you get to game day. It really is. Because it hinges on very small things, I think."

O'Connor and Terry both played ample snaps in the win over Ohio State, but they weren't asked to do too much when it came to throwing the football. O'Connor threw 12 passes, completing seven for 89 yards and a touchdown. Terry threw four passes, completing just one for two yards. The two quarterbacks had identical rushing statistics, each running eight times for 25 yards.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Spartans gear right here]

Dantonio said, though, that the Spartans threw the ball far less than they would have with Cook for a variety of reasons including weather conditions, short-yardage situations and strong performances from the running game and the defense.

With a win over Penn State on Saturday, Michigan State will win the Big Ten East Division championship, punching a ticket to the Big Ten title game. A win there over currently undefeated Iowa would put the Spartans right in the mix for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Moving forward, the services of Cook, who's likely been the Big Ten's best quarterback this season, will be required to keep Michigan State's season going.

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

jeremy_larkin.jpg
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

anderson.jpg
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.