Big Ten

Jabrill Peppers is a Heisman finalist, so can he stop the Big Ten's drought from reaching a decade?

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Jabrill Peppers is a Heisman finalist, so can he stop the Big Ten's drought from reaching a decade?

Michigan's Jabrill Peppers is a Heisman Trophy finalist. Can he stop the Big Ten's Heisman drought from reaching a decade?

We'll find out when Peppers travels to New York for the Heisman presentation, where he'll join fellow finalists Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, DeShaun Watson and Dede Westbrook.

Peppers has already taken home plenty of hardware this season, named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year and the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year. He's also a finalist for the Maxwell Award and the Bednarik Award.

Peppers is a true do-it-all threat, playing in all three phases of the game. He's the third-leading tackler on Michigan's nation-best defense with 72 total stops. He also has 16 tackles for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. Peppers also racked up 751 all-purpose yards: 310 via the punt return, 260 via the kick return, 167 rushing, 11 on an interception return and three receiving yards.

If he wins, Peppers would become the first Big Ten player to win college football's most prestigious award since Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006. He'd become the third Wolverine to win, joining Charles Woodson (1997), Desmond Howard (1991) and Tom Harmon (1940). If Peppers doesn't win, the Big Ten's Heisman drought will stretch to 10 years.

This season, the Big Ten doesn't need a Heisman victory to cement its status as the nation's best conference. It's done that already with three teams in the top six and four in the top eight of the final College Football Playoff rankings. Ohio State, ranked third, will compete for a national championship for the second time in three seasons.

But certainly hardware helps the perception of a league. Of the nine who have won since Smith, five hailed from SEC schools, two from the Big 12 and one apiece from the ACC and Pac-12.

Two seasons ago, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon finished second, the best finish for a Big Ten player since Smith's win.

Twelve players from Big Ten teams have finished in the top 10 in voting since Smith's win:

YEAR PLAYER SCHOOL PLACE
2015 Ezekiel Elliott Ohio State eighth
2015 Connor Cook Michigan State ninth
2014 Melvin Gordon Wisconsin second
2014 J.T. Barrett Ohio State fifth
2014 Tevin Coleman Indiana seventh
2013 Braxton Miller Ohio State ninth
2012 Braxton Miller Ohio State fifth
2011 Montee Ball Wisconsin fourth
2011 Russell Wilson Wisconsin ninth
2010 Denard Robinson Michigan sixth
2008 Shonn Green Iowa sixth
2008 Javon Ringer Michigan State 10th

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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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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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.