Big Ten

Illini crush Western Illinois, two straight dominant wins under Cubit


Illini crush Western Illinois, two straight dominant wins under Cubit

Two weeks into the 2015 season, and the Illini have two dominant victories.

After crushing Kent State, 52-3, in the season-opener, Illinois shut out Western Illinois in another rout in Champaign, 44-0.

Now, that might have happened whether Tim Beckman was fired a week before the season or not, what with these first two games coming against Kent State and Western Illinois. But you can’t help but be impressed by a team that’s had more than its share of troubles over the past few seasons and has outscored opponents 96-3 over eight quarters of football.

A defense that struggled against almost every opponent in recent seasons has held its opponents to a total of three points in those eight quarters, with the visiting end zones at Memorial Stadium remaining untouched. That defense starred again Saturday, holding Western Illinois to 141 total yards and just 43 through the air. Illini defender Taylor Barton picked off two Leathernecks passes, and Jaylen Dunlap blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Marchie Murdock.

[MORE BIG TEN: Purdue tosses 51-yard Hail Mary TD to end first half]

And the Illini offense had little trouble scoring all over the Leathernecks. Wes Lunt completed 33 of his 46 passing attempts for 316 yards and a touchdown, also throwing an interception. It wasn't a huge day running the ball, but Josh Ferguson and Henry Enyenihi each scored a rushing touchdown. It was a big day for wideout Geronimo Allison, who caught eight passes for 124 yards.

The Illini amassed 500 total yards of offense on the day.

After the firing of Beckman, the Illini have two wins in two tries under interim head coach Bill Cubit. Though the tough games have yet to occur — it’ll happen soon enough, though, with a Week 3 trip to North Carolina — there’s a good feeling in Champaign and some positive momentum just two weeks after the program appeared to be a disaster.

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.