After a 25-point loss to a team that played in the ACC title game last season, a 24-point beat down at the hands of the defending MAC champs is not what the doctor ordered for Lovie Smith's Fighting Illini.
Illinois was routed by Western Michigan on Saturday, 34-10, posting only three rushing yards as Illinois native P.J. Fleck led his team to its second win over a Big Ten team this season.
The game was over early, with the Broncos scoring to go up 21-0 just four seconds into the second quarter. The Illini did get one first-half score — a 56-yard touchdown throw from Wes Lunt — but they went to halftime trailing, 24-7. Illinois could muster just a field goal after halftime, Western Michigan adding 10 points to secure the win in easy fashion.
The Illinois offense, for the second consecutive week, was extremely ineffective. The three rushing yards on 15 attempts was particularly cringe-worthy, with the team accumulating just 315 total yards compared to Western Michigan's 437.
Lunt was 29-for-42 for 312 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw an interception and had negative-20 rushing yards. Malik Turner was Lunt's top target, and he caught nine passes for 107 yards.
The Broncos gained 287 rushing yards, with Jamauri Bogan rushing for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Illini dropped to 1-2 with the loss, their second straight at home, and open Big Ten play two weeks from now against Nebraska.
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 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.