It was Wes Lunt's final game in Champaign in an Illini uniform, but he and the rest of the Illinois offense did absolutely nothing Saturday afternoon.
Illinois punted on every one of its first 10 possessions and totaled a ghastly 198 yards in a 28-0 blowout loss to Iowa at Memorial Stadium.
Nasty weather conditions matched the quality of play on the field, with neither offense doing much of anything in the first half. The Illini had only 105 total yards at the break and had punted on every one of its eight possessions. The only reason the Hawkeyes didn't do the same was because of two first-half turnovers. But Iowa did have the only scoring play of the first 30 minutes, getting a 55-yard punt-return touchdown from Riley McCarron to break a scoreless tie.
The second half was even worse, offensively, for the Illini. They totaled just 92 yards after halftime, punting twice more before throwing an interception, fumbling and twice turning the ball over on downs to end the day. Meanwhile, Iowa found its groove against the Illinois defense, scoring three touchdowns in the second half. LeShun Daniels accounted for the first two of those, rushing in from one yard out and then from 50 yards out later in the half. Akrum Wadley capped the day's scoring with a short touchdown run to make it 28-0.
Iowa finished with 342 total yards, gaining 262 of those on the ground thanks to big days from Daniels and Wadley, who went for 159 yards and 82 yards, respectively.
Lunt completed 19 of his 41 passing attempts for 137 yards and an interception as the Illini struggled to their 198 total yards. The team had just 61 rushing yards, with Kendrick Foster accounting for 50 of them on 16 carries.
The loss dropped the Illini to 3-8 on the season and 2-6 in conference play. Lovie Smith's first season wasn't expected to be much of a success, but pretty obvious things could've gone better. Illinois has scored a total of three points in its last two games and 10 or fewer points in four of its losses this season. Smith & Co. will have one more shot at victory next weekend in the regular-season finale against Northwestern.
Meanwhile, Iowa jumped up to 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten with the win. The Hawkeyes have back-to-back victories and wrap up regular-season play next Friday 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.