Big Ten

Gophers survive another MAC foe, beat Ohio in final minute

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Gophers survive another MAC foe, beat Ohio in final minute

Well, Minnesota is 3-1, and surely the wins are more important than the fact that back-to-back victories over MAC teams have come by a combined six points.

For the second week in a row, the Gophers were challenged at home by a visiting MAC opponent. Last weekend, it was a 10-7 survival against Kent State. Saturday, Minnesota needed a touchdown in the final minute — and the help of a weird delay of game penalty — to escape Ohio, 27-24.

The fourth quarter was a wild one that featured 20 total points. Minnesota entered the period ahead, 17-14, but Ohio scored not a half minute into the fourth to take a 21-17 lead. Then the teams traded field goals, the latter belonging to the Bobcats to boost their lead to 24-20 with two and a half minutes remaining.

From there, Mitch Leidner engineered a terrific drive that didn't look much like the Gophers, who have struggled offensively all season. That two-minute drive lasted 11 plays and 78 yards and finished with Shannon Brooks’ second touchdown run of the game, a score that put Minnesota on top, 27-24, with 30 seconds left.

[MORE BIG TEN: Dominant on both sides, Michigan makes statement in crushing BYU]

Ohio returned the ensuing kickoff into Minnesota territory, and with seven seconds left lined up for a 53-yard field-goal attempt. Jerry Kill called a timeout, and Ohio kicked the not-to-be-counted field goal anyway. That action by Ohio, though, earned the Bobcats a delay of game penalty that sent them back five yards and knocked them out of field-goal range. To repeat: The delay of game flag came after a timeout, a strange occurrence to be certain. Ohio’s Hail Mary try was knocked down, and Minnesota walked away victorious.

The Gophers mustered a pretty strong offensive showing after woes on that side of the ball plagued them through the first three weeks. Minnesota accumulated 468 total yards, 264 yards through the air and 204 on the ground. Leidner didn’t throw a touchdown pass but completed 22 of his 32 passing attempts. Rodney Smith had 94 yards, but it was Brooks who starred, going for 82 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, the first 10 carries of his collegiate career.

While Minnesota has made its fans sweat in the last few games with narrow wins against Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio — all wins coming by three points — it is 3-1 with its sole loss coming against TCU, one of the top teams in the country.

The Gophers open Big Ten play against Northwestern next weekend.

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

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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

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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.