As if a date with the eighth-ranked Michigan State Spartans wouldn't have been tough enough at full strength, injuries keep piling up for the 11th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers.
Thursday's injury report revealed that kicker Rafael Gaglianone, running back Bradrick Shaw and offensive lineman Jon Dietzen have all been ruled out for Saturday's conference-opener.
Additionally, running backs Corey Clement and Taiwan Deal were listed as questionable, the same designation they were given earlier in the week. Offensive lineman Micah Kapoi was also listed as questionable.
Add the season-ending injury suffered earlier this year by linebacker Chris Orr and the injury-induced retirement of offensive lineman Dan Voltz, and that's a lot of injuries. The offensive side of the ball is especially affected at the moment, and that could spell trouble considering Wisconsin will feature a first-time starter at quarterback in Alex Hornibrook.
The running game is of particular concern, with the potential for three backs and two linemen to miss Saturday's game against a Michigan State defense that ranks first in the Big Ten in rushing defense, allowing just 72 yards per game on the ground.
The offense struggled a week ago, turning the ball over twice and scoring just 13 points through the first 52-plus minutes against Georgia State, needing a late scoring drive to come back in the fourth quarter.
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.