Big Ten

Hawkeyes up to No. 4, Spartans up to No. 5 in College Football Playoff rankings

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Hawkeyes up to No. 4, Spartans up to No. 5 in College Football Playoff rankings

If the season ended today, the Iowa Hawkeyes would be competing for a national championship.

Iowa came in at No. 4 when the latest College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, putting the Hawkeyes in line for a spot in the sport's final four. They moved up one spot from the No. 5 ranking they held a week ago.

Michigan State was elevated from No. 9 to No. 5 following its win over Ohio State, both the Hawkeyes and Spartans jumping over Notre Dame.

If both Iowa and Michigan State win in their regular-season finales, it could set up a potential Playoff play-in game in the Big Ten Championship Game.

The Buckeyes dropped to No. 8 after their first loss of the season. Michigan and Northwestern were also ranked in the top 20, the Wolverines moving up from No. 12 to No. 10 and the Wildcats moving up from No. 20 to No. 16.

[MORE BIG TEN: Tight finishes finally going Northwestern's way with 10 wins in sight]

Iowa closes its regular-season schedule with Nebraska this weekend before playing in the Big Ten title game. Wins in both would almost certainly earn the Hawkeyes a spot in the Playoff as an undefeated conference champ. Oklahoma State, the last remaining undefeated team in the Big 12, also lost this weekend, bettering Iowa's chances at a spot in the Playoff, as just the Hawkeyes and the Clemson Tigers have undefeated records.

The Spartans can clinch a spot in the Big Ten title game with a win over Penn State this weekend. Knock off Iowa for the conference championship, and Michigan State could be looking at a berth in the Playoff. The remaining high rankings of Ohio State and Michigan give a boost to the Spartans' Playoff resume, as does a new No. 17 ranking for Oregon, which Michigan State beat in the second game of the season.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines still remain slightly alive for a spot in the Playoff, too. If Michigan State loses to Penn State this weekend, the winner of the annual rivalry game between Ohio State and Michigan would take on Iowa in the Big Ten title game, where a win could also earn a spot in the Playoff, though that's far less likely.

Northwestern's win over Wisconsin, which fell out of the Playoff rankings this week, sets the Cats up for a double-digit-win season should they beat Illinois in the regular-season finale.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Hawkeyes gear right here]

Here are the complete top-25 rankings:

1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma
4. Iowa
5. Michigan State
6. Notre Dame
7. Baylor
8. Ohio State
9. Stanford
10. Michigan
11.Oklahoma State
12. Florida
13. Florida State
14. North Carolina
15. Navy
16. Northwestern
17. Oregon
18. Ole Miss
19. TCU
20. Washington State
21. Mississippi State
22. UCLA
23. Utah
24. Toledo
25. Temple

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.