Big Ten

Gophers to play Central Michigan in Quick Lane Bowl


Gophers to play Central Michigan in Quick Lane Bowl

The Gophers finished the regular season with a sub-.500 record, but they're going to the postseason nonetheless.

Minnesota accepted an invitation to the Quick Lane Bowl and will play Central Michigan on Dec. 28 at Ford Field in Detroit.

The Gophers looked to be spending the postseason in the Twin Cities after losing the regular-season finale to Wisconsin to drop to 5-7 and seemingly miss bowl eligibility. But a shortage of teams with .500 records or better meant a couple of the whopping 80 bowl slots were made available to 5-7 teams. Ranked by APR, or Academic Progress Rate, Minnesota — along with conferencemate Nebraska — qualified for the postseason despite just five wins.

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It's four straight bowl games for Minnesota in the final season to feature Jerry Kill as head coach. Kill had to abruptly retire in the middle of the season due to health concerns. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys took over as interim head coach and was promoted to the permanent head coach not long after.

Central Michigan finished its regular season at 7-5 and made a bowl for the second straight season. The Gophers have played the Chippewas just once, a 20-point win in 1987.

Despite reaching a bowl game in 13 of the past 17 seasons, Minnesota has gone just 3-9 in the last 12 bowl trips. It hasn't won a bowl game since 2004, on a seven-game postseason losing streak.

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.