Welcome to the C.J. Beathard Era at Iowa, where everything’s coming up sunshine.
In his first game since head coach Kirk Ferentz made him the team’s No. 1 quarterback, Beathard led a dominant performance by the Hawkeyes, who took care of Illinois State, 31-14, in the season-opener on Saturday.
Despite a score that doesn’t exactly look like a blowout, Iowa was in control from beginning to end on both sides of the ball. Iowa out-gained Illinois State — a team that played for an FCS national championship last season — 431-231, with the Hawkeyes defense keeping the Redbirds’ number real low until the very end. Illinois State scored two touchdowns in the final five and a half minutes, turning a 31-0 rout into a 17-point loss.
[MORE BIG TEN: Behind stellar defense, Northwestern chops down Stanford in upset]
But still, it was all Hawkeyes. While perhaps they didn’t take as much advantage on the scoreboard as they should have, the Hawkeyes showed an offense that didn’t look like the one that struggled to gain traction under Jake Rudock’s leadership last season. Beathard completed just 15 passes but for 211 yards and a touchdown.
But it was on the ground where Iowa really impressed. Beathard reached the end zone twice using his legs. The team ran for 210 yards total, with LeShun Daniels carrying the ball 26 times for 123 yards. Jordan Canzeri added a rushing touchdown, as well.
The Iowa defense played terrifically, holding the Redbirds to a jaw-droppingly low 35 rush yards on the day. Iowa also registered five sacks, with star defensive end Drew Ott accounting for two of those.
It was a solid non-conference win for Iowa, even if it came against an FCS opponent. The Hawkeyes went 3-1 in non-conference plays last season, winning the three games by a combined 16 points.
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 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.