Big Ten

Here's how Buckeyes could still make the College Football Playoff

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Here's how Buckeyes could still make the College Football Playoff

Without an opportunity to play for a conference championship, Ohio State's chances at a berth in the College Football Playoff are slim.

But that doesn't mean they're non-existent.

Yes, there still might be a way for the Buckeyes to sneak into the field of four, but as you might expect, a lot of stuff — some of it rather unlikely — would need to happen.

But, for the sake of discussion, let's take a look at what would need to happen.

First off, the Buckeyes did good by showing they are still capable of looking like a championship team when they stomped Michigan on Saturday at the Big House. Ezekiel Elliott looked every bit a Heisman contender, and J.T. Barrett made everyone think, "What quarterback problems?" It was a far cry from the 132 total yards Ohio State gained against Michigan State, and that's a good thing. It should be enough, with Notre Dame losing to Stanford and Baylor losing to TCU, to boost the Buckeyes to No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings, putting them right outside the all-important top four.

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

Now, here's where the myriad things Ohio State can't control come in.

The Big Ten champion and likely the ACC champion, regardless of who they are, will earn spots in the Playoff. Iowa and Clemson would be undefeated conference champs. Michigan State and North Carolina would be one-loss conference champs. Ohio State, though, probably needs Clemson to win the ACC title game. Why? The Buckeyes would definitely be ranked ahead of the two-loss Tar Heels should North Carolina lose. But the one-loss Tigers would probably be ranked higher than the one-loss Buckeyes were Clemson to lose the ACC title bout.

In the Big 12, one-loss champion Oklahoma is pretty much locked in, too.

So that's three of the four spots taken up.

It means Ohio State's only hope is to be ranked higher than the SEC and Pac-12 champions. If Alabama wins the SEC, that won't happen, so Buckeyes fans should be rooting for Urban Meyer's old team, Florida, to shock the Tide in the SEC title game. The Gators currently have two losses and have been extremely unimpressive in gaining most of their wins in an incredibly weak SEC East. So if Florida wins the SEC, there's still a chance the committee would be more impressed with the Buckeyes and rank them higher.

The Pac-12 is a little more cut and dry, as if Stanford loses to USC in the conference title game, the Buckeyes would surely be ranked ahead of the four-loss Trojans. Even if the Cardinal win, their ranking might not be high enough to reach the top four, and Ohio State could still be ranked ahead of Stanford if Stanford wins the Pac-12. But it would be much easier if USC staged the upset.

It's a lot of stuff that has to happen, and obviously Alabama and Stanford will be highly favored in their respective conference title games. But we've seen wackier things happen in this sport.

Ohio State benefited from championship weekend a season ago to reach the Playoff. The Buckeyes aren't playing this championship weekend, but could they benefit again?

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.