Big Ten

Huskers suffer yet another last-second loss as Badgers win with FG

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Huskers suffer yet another last-second loss as Badgers win with FG

The 2015 Nebraska Cornhuskers are a team proving that truth can be stranger than fiction.

If you thought up a team that lost almost all its games on the final plays of games, it would be the most unbelievable thing. But yet we have the Huskers, who on Saturday again fell with the clock at just about zero.

Rafael Gaglianone’s field goal with four seconds left pushed Wisconsin past Nebraska, 23-21, in Lincoln, adding another grueling chapter to the first season of the Mike Riley Era.

Last week, the Huskers lost, 14-13, when the Illini scored a game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds left. Two weeks before that, a furious Nebraska comeback forced overtime at Miami, only for Tommy Armstrong to throw an interception on the first play of overtime and the Hurricanes to kick a game-winning field goal. And two weeks before that, the Huskers lost on BYU’s Hail Mary in one of the more memorable moments of the season’s opening week.

So four losses, all coming on the final play or just about the final play of games. The Huskers are 2-4, and no one is happy about it.

“I don't think I've ever really seen this before,” Riley said. “But, we're in it. When you've had games like we've had, you will look at many different circumstances on how your playing or coaching could make a difference. I feel like there are tangible things we've just got to do better.”

"We've got to all stick in this together. We've said from Day 1, seasons are unexpected. You've got to expect the unexpected. We really didn't think that we would have a season like this. It's heartbreaking to look at it this way, but we've just got to stick together and drive on to next week. We're going to try to progress and improve."

As we did last week, we’ll check things out a little closer, and it doesn’t take much searching to find that Nebraska once again made its own bed. After the touchdown that gave the Huskers a 21-20 lead — a 55-yard run by Andy Janovich — the defense benefitted from Gaglianone’s second missed field goal of the day. Problem was, the Nebraska offense immediately went three and out, burning just 23 seconds of clock and giving the ball right back to Wisconsin. The Huskers’ defense then allowed the Badgers to go 42 yards in just over a minute and kick the game-winning field goal.

Again, Armstrong was woefully inaccurate, completing just 11 of 28 passes for 129 yards. This after completing 10 of 31 passes for 105 yards in the loss to Illinois.

"We put ourselves in that situation to lose the game, offensive-wise, by not capitalizing when we needed to, not getting first downs when we needed to, not being smart on certain situations," Armstrong said.

The Nebraska defense was up to its old tricks again, too, allowing Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave to pass for 322 yards, the fifth time in six games the Huskers have allowed an opponent to rack up at least 300 yards through the air.

It's a solid win for Wisconsin, and the Badgers are still firmly in the Big Ten West race. Nebraska? Maybe not so much. Just like last week, the questions arise about Riley, who was brought on after Bo Pelini got the axe. No matter what you think of the Huskers replacing Pelini, a perennial nine-game winner, with the much more pleasing personality of Riley, it certainly appears that the new coach will fail to match the old one's annual win total in his first season in Lincoln.

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.