Big Ten

Hawkeyes blast Huskers in Heroes Game rout

george-kittle-1125.jpg
USA TODAY

Hawkeyes blast Huskers in Heroes Game rout

Nebraska won't be playing for a Big Ten championship after Iowa ran up the score in the annual Heroes Game.

The Hawkeyes dominated the Huskers by a 40-10 score Friday in Iowa City, eliminating their border rivals from the Big Ten West Division championship race. Iowa's win gave the division crown to Wisconsin, which will head to the conference championship game in Indianapolis regardless of the outcome of the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe on Saturday in Madison.

Despite struggling to produce any consistent offensive success early, the Hawkeyes had some home runs in them, scoring two first-quarter touchdowns on plays of more than 70 yards. Akrum Wadley rushed 75 yards for a score, and C.J. Beathard hit Riley McCarron on a crossing rout that ended with him scampering to the end zone on a 77-yard pass play.

Nebraska added a second-quarter field goal before LeShun Daniels hit the big-play jackpot, rushing 56 yards to set up his four-yard touchdown rush to make it a 20-3 game.

Desmond King's 44-yard punt return in the third quarter set up another short Iowa touchdown, a pass from Beathard to George Kittle. Nebraska hung around with a fourth-and-10 touchdown pass from Tommy Armstrong to Stanley Morgan Jr.

But the Hawkeyes broke things open in the fourth quarter, scoring two more touchdowns: one a six-yard pass from Beathard to Kittle and the other a one-yard Daniels scoring run.

Iowa dominated Nebraska in this one on more than just the scoreboard, holding a 408-217 edge in total yardage that included 264 yards on the ground. The Huskers actually had more first downs and there were zero turnovers in the game, but the Hawkeyes dwarfed them in yards per play, averaging 9.6 yards per pass compared to 3.4 and 5.6 yards per rush compared to 2.9.

Beathard was 10-for-15 for 144 yards and three touchdowns. Daniels and Wadley both went over 100 yards rushing on the day, Daniels gaining 158 and scoring two touchdowns and Wadley gaining 105 with one touchdown.

The win ended Iowa's regular season at 8-4 overall and 6-3 in conference play, another upsetting finish to follow one of Kirk Ferentz's biggest seasons. But certainly things could've been much worse. The Hawkeyes perhaps played their best down the stretch, winning their final three games and dominating on defense in all three, holding Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska to a combined 23 points in 12 quarters.

Nebraska's regular season ended at 9-3 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten. The Huskers will almost surely drop in next week's College Football Playoff rankings, but more to the point they will not compete for a Big Ten title or a spot in the Playoff. Still, a nine-win campaign to follow up the 6-7 finish in Mike Riley's first season is one great step in the right direction.

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.