Big Ten

Illini running back Josh Ferguson to miss third straight game

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Illini running back Josh Ferguson to miss third straight game

Illinois will be without its starting running back for the third straight game Saturday.

The Illini announced Thursday night that Josh Ferguson is out for this weekend's matchup against Penn State.

Ferguson injured his shoulder during Illinois' win over Nebraska on Oct. 3. He sat out much of that game and has been in recovery mode ever since. That included a bye week.

Without Ferguson, the Illini's running game has been almost non-existent in losses to Iowa and Wisconsin, going for a combined 101 yards in those two games.

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“He’s a great player," quarterback Wes Lunt said of Ferguson after last weekend's loss to Wisconsin. "I think we miss him, not only in the run game, but he’s huge in the passing game out of the backfield. Those are things that we’re probably lacking (without) him just because he’s not out there. Just got to keep fighting. Next guy up, that’s the mentality of the team.”

Backup Ke'Shawn Vaughn had a good game against Nebraska, rushing 24 times for 98 yards. Against Iowa, Vaughn gained 67 yards on 19 carries, and against Wisconsin, he rushed 13 times for 55 yards. He scored a touchdown in each of those losses.

“We’re missing Josh," offensive lineman Teddy Karras said. "Ke’Shawn’s doing a great job, and he’s shown he can be a Big Ten back. But your senior captain running back is an important piece to any Big Ten offense. ... It’s just one of the things you have to deal with in a physical, run-oriented league. We’re definitely going to welcome him back with open arms.”

When Ferguson returns, though, remains unknown.

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.