While we still wait to see if Wisconsin's star running back Corey Clement will return to the field this week, Illinois announced Thursday that its star running back, Josh Ferguson, will remain out of the lineup when the two teams meet Saturday afternoon in Champaign.
Ferguson, who was knocked out early in the Illini's win over Nebraska a few weeks back, missed the team's last game against Iowa, and sitting out Saturday will make it two straight. Ferguson has a shoulder sprain, interim head coach Bill Cubit told reporters Monday.
Ferguson has 381 rushing yards and four total touchdowns in this, his senior season.
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Without Ferguson, Illinois rushed for just 46 yards in a 29-20 loss to Iowa two weeks ago. Ke'Shawn Vaughn has 19 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown in that game, and quarterback Wes Lunt was sacked three times for a loss of 20 yards. Vaughn also had a costly fumble late in the game.
But Ferguson's absence won't be the only thing hampering the Illinois offense Saturday. Also included on the Illini's injury report Thursday was Marchie Murdock, who will also sit out of Saturday's game.
Murdock, who also missed the Iowa game, is the team's second-leading receiver with 194 yards, and he's tied for the team lead with three touchdown catches.
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.