Big Ten

Gophers run past Illini, who need win in finale to reach bowl


Gophers run past Illini, who need win in finale to reach bowl

For the second straight season, Illinois will be playing for its postseason future in its regular-season finale.

The Illini couldn't stop Minnesota's rushing attack and couldn't come up with touchdowns when they needed to, falling to the Gophers, 32-23, on Saturday afternoon in the Twin Cities.

Wes Lunt played very well in the first half and got the Illini on the board first, capping a 77-yard touchdown drive with a touchdown toss to Malik Turner. But the Gophers responded immediately, Mitch Leidner gaining 33 yards on one rush en route to a Shannon Brook game-tying touchdown run.

After Illinois kicked a field goal, Brooks turned in a game-breaking 38-yard touchdown run. He later fumbled in the second quarter, which the Illini turned into another field goal. But Minnesota reached the goal line with seconds before halftime, and Leidner hit Rashad Still with a touchdown pass to take a 21-13 lead into the break.

The Illini settled for a field goal once more in the third quarter, but the Gophers were offsides on the play, keeping the drive going. A few plays later, Lunt pitched a touchdown toss to Andrew Davis to make it a one-point game. Minnesota then got a huge kick return but settled for a field goal of its own. A quarter later, the Illini were forced into another field goal, and Brooks' 75-yard touchdown run sealed the game when Leidner ran in for a successful two-point conversion.

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Illinois lost despite out-gaining Minnesota, 433-343. The Gophers gained 255 rushing yards, with Brooks rushing for 174 yards and three touchdowns.

Lunt had a good day for the Illini, finishing with 279 passing yards and two touchdowns, plus an interception. Josh Ferguson went over 100 yards on the ground, gaining 105 yards on 20 carries. Turner had a huge day, catching 11 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown.

The Illini dropped to 5-6 with the loss, and their only hope at reaching a bowl game — and perhaps of keeping Bill Cubit as the permanent head coach — rides on the regular-season finale against Northwestern next weekend at Soldier Field.

The Gophers improved to 5-6 with the win and could reach the postseason with an upset win over Wisconsin next weekend.

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.