Big Ten

Hoosiers keep it close, but behind Ezekiel Elliott, Buckeyes survive


Hoosiers keep it close, but behind Ezekiel Elliott, Buckeyes survive

The Ezekiel Elliott who ran wild in three postseason wins for the Buckeyes last season? He's back, and the Big Ten might want to look out.

The Ohio State running back ran all over Indiana on Saturday, and despite the Hoosiers giving the No. 1 team in the land everything it could handle, Elliott's second-half heroics allowed the Buckeyes to leave Bloomington with a 34-27 win.

Elliott turned in second-half touchdown runs of 55, 65 and 75 yards as a slumbering Ohio State offense — which had six points on two field goals in the first half — exploded for 28 points over the final 30 minutes. Elliott rushed for a career-high 274 yards on 23 carries, with a whopping 243 of those coming after halftime.

Indiana held a 10-6 advantage at the break, but Elliott's first long touchdown run gave Ohio State its first lead of the afternoon a little more than six minutes into the third quarter. With fewer than two and a half minutes left in that quarter, Hoosiers running back Devine Redding snatched the lead back with his second touchdown run of the game. But Elliott went 65 yards for another go-ahead score on the following drive.

Cardale Jones — who was 18-for-27 with 245 yards — boosted that lead seconds into the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass to Michael Thomas. A Hoosiers field goal shaved the Buckeyes' lead to a touchdown, 27-20, not long after.

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini come back in final seconds to stun Huskers]

Elliott's final touchdown run gave Ohio State some more breathing room at 34-20, but that breathing room didn't last long, as Indiana backup quarterback Zander Diamont reeled off a 79-yard touchdown run to again make it a one-score game. The Buckeyes and Hoosiers traded three-and-outs from there, and the Hoosiers had one last crack, getting all the way to the Buckeyes' five-yard line in the game's final minute. But Indiana turned over on downs on fourth and goal, ending an exhilarating threat to the defending national champs.

Indiana's efforts were even more impressive considering the Hoosiers did much of this without their two best players. Neither starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld nor starting running back Jordan Howard — who entered the game as the nation's leading rusher — finished the game, knocked out with injuries.

Despite the low-scoring first half, the game ended as the high-scoring shootout many expected. Ohio State gained 517 yards of offense, more than half of that total coming from Elliott, while Indiana posted 402 total yards against an Ohio State defense that ranked among the nation's best through its first four games.

The Buckeyes, still undefeated at 5-0, have sweated out more wins than many expected they would. And it's that "not making it easy" type of performance on a weekly basis that could cause them to fall from the top spot in the rankings Sunday.

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, are no longer undefeated. But still at 4-1, they're just two wins away from bowl eligibility. A postseason berth would be the program's first since 2007 and second since 1993. And the way Indiana played against the No. 1 team, two more wins suddenly don't seem too unrealistic.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


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


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.