Big Ten

Hawkeyes' Kirk Ferentz named Big Ten Coach of the Year

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Hawkeyes' Kirk Ferentz named Big Ten Coach of the Year

At this time last season, many Iowa fans were calling for Kirk Ferentz to lose his job. Now he’s the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Ferentz won the award Tuesday, when the conference announced the second half of its individual award winners. It’s the fourth time in his 17-year tenure leading the Iowa football program that he has won this iteration of the award, previously taking home the honor in 2002, 2004 and 2009.

Ferentz’s Hawkeyes have a perfect 12-0 record following the conclusion of the regular season, the first 12-win season in program history. They boast the No. 4 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, and a win in the Big Ten Championship Game this weekend in Indianapolis would in all likelihood secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Ferentz was under fire in recent years for winning no more than eight games in any of the previous five seasons, going a combined 19-19 in the last three, a steady decline since leading the Hawkeyes to 11 wins and a victory in the Orange Bowl in the 2009 campaign.

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But Ferentz vowed to do things differently in the wake of an embarrassing end to last season, when Tennessee thumped Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Most significantly, that meant a change at quarterback, installing C.J. Beathard as the start in place of Jake Rudock with an odd January depth chart. That triggered Rudock’s transfer to Michigan, but Beathard has proven to be terrific, turning in one of the better seasons of any quarterback in the Big Ten this year.

The 12-0 regular season by Iowa has been trademarked by terrific play on both sides of the ball. The defense ranks 15th in the country, allowing just 18.7 points a game, while Beathard and a multi-headed monster at running back have the Hawkeyes as the third-highest scoring team in the Big Ten at 33.7 points per game.

Sure, Iowa’s strength of schedule has been criticized by just about everyone, though a signature win over Northwestern in Evanston is looking better and better by the day. But if the Hawkeyes can beat one-loss Michigan State in this weekend’s conference title game, they’ll be one of just four teams in the country competing for a national championship.

Not a bad job by Ferentz.

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.

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.