Big Ten

Hawkeyes officially heading to B1G title game after beating Purdue

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Hawkeyes officially heading to B1G title game after beating Purdue

Iowa is officially going to the Big Ten Championship Game.

That's been the expected outcome for weeks now, but the Hawkeyes made their spot in the title game official with a division-title-clinching 40-20 win over Purdue on Saturday afternoon in Iowa City.

It looked like Iowa was going to cruise to victory early, as the Hawkeyes scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives of the game. LeShun Daniels had two touchdown runs, and C.J. Beathard hit Matt VandeBerg to make it a 20-0 lead at the outset of the second quarter.

But the game changed when a Jordan Lomax hit knocked Purdue quarterback David Blough out of the game. Former starter Austin Appleby relieved the injured Blough and breathed new life into the Boilermakers, leading three straight scoring drives in the second and third quarters. He completed his first 10 passes for 98 yards in the second quarter, setting up a Markell Jones touchdown run and a late field goal to make it a 10-point deficit at the half. And Purdue's first drive of the third quarter also ended in a field goal, to make it just a touchdown difference.

Both those field goals, though, came from up close, when touchdowns could have made it a very different game.

The Hawkeyes, though, shook off those mid-game doldrums and went on a 91-yard touchdown drive in the third and a 79-yard touchdown drive in the fourth, with George Kittle and Henry Krieger Coble catching touchdown passes from Beathard.

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Appleby threw his first touchdown pass of the day in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late. Jordan Canzeri's 42-yard touchdown run in the game's final minutes made it a 20-point lead for Iowa, a cherry on top of the win.

As Iowa fights for national respectability, West Division bottom-feeder Purdue managed to put a scare into the undefeated No. 5 team in the country. The Boilers racked up better than 400 yards of total offense. Appleby's relief effort was stellar, as he threw for 259 yards and a touchdown.

But Iowa got the big plays it needed, Beathard throwing a trio of touchdown passes and Canzeri rushing for 95 yards.

The win clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game for the Hawkeyes, who are perfect through 11 games this season and still have a great chance of making the College Football Playoff. After next weekend's regular-season finale against Nebraska, Iowa will play either Ohio State, Michigan State or Michigan in the title game in Indianapolis.

The loss dropped the Boilers to 2-9 on the season. A loss in the season finale against Indiana would send Purdue to its second season with double-digit losses in the three seasons Darrell Hazell has been at the helm.

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.