Big Ten

Illini are Big Ten's most popular Homecoming opponent

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Illini are Big Ten's most popular Homecoming opponent

If you're a Big Ten team, there's a good chance you're playing the Illini on Homecoming.

The Big Ten announced the opponents and kick times for all 14 teams' Homecoming games on Wednesday, and Illinois was the most popular opponent, serving as the foe for a whopping four Homecoming tilts. Nebraska, Rutgers, Michigan and Wisconsin will all play host to Illinois in their respective Homecoming games.

The Illini's not-so-glamorous record over the past several years surely has a lot to do with it. Schools typically pick games they have a good chance of winning to serve as Homecoming bouts, with plenty of partying alumni and fans in attendance. No good party is complete without a win, after all. And thanks to Illinois' gruesome 38-90 conference mark in the 21st century — a 16-year stretch that's seen the team post an above-.500 league record just twice — teams see the Illini as a good bet for a "W."

So it's up to Lovie Smith to prove them wrong in his first year on the job in Champaign.

Northwestern and Rutgers each serve as the opponent in multiple Homecoming games, too, with two apiece on the schedule. The other six games see home teams welcoming in Purdue, Maryland, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana and Minnesota.

Illinois' Homecoming game comes Oct. 29 against Minnesota.

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.