Big Ten

J.T. Barrett thinks potential one-loss Buckeyes belong in Playoff even without Big Ten title

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J.T. Barrett thinks potential one-loss Buckeyes belong in Playoff even without Big Ten title

The College Football Playoff selection committee could be faced with a very tricky situation.

Ohio State will likely hold the No. 2 ranking in the College Football Playoff rankings when the new batch is released Tuesday thanks to the current Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams all losing this past weekend. The Buckeyes, which have won their last two games by identical 62-3 scores, could finish the regular season with an 11-1 record that includes wins over Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan.

But all that could happen and they could still not even have a chance to play for a Big Ten championship. That's thanks to Ohio State's loss at Penn State last month, one that gave the Nittany Lions the head-to-head tiebreaker. The two teams currently have matching 6-1 conference records, so if both teams win their final two regular-season games, it's Penn State that's heading to Indy for the conference-title game.

That begs the question, if a one-loss Ohio State team isn't holding a Big Ten championship, can it still make the Playoff? Through two seasons, the selection committee has awarded the eight Playoff spots exclusively to conference champions. So if the Buckeyes have one loss but no trophy, a fierce debate will rage.

One guy who will be advocating for Ohio State's inclusion in the final four — with or without a league title — is Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett.

"I see it like this: If we win out all our games, Big Ten championship or not, you're not going to put us in? Like you're going to leave Ohio State out?" Barrett said, his quotes published by Cleveland.com. "That's how I see it. That doesn't make sense to me.

"With that, I know Big Ten Championships and conference championships is a major thing, but then you're talking about one of those two-loss teams and things like that. It's something totally different. 

"I think if we won our games, that's the only thing we can control, the only thing we can handle. And (the Playoff) is left to somebody else, people on the committee and things like that. At the end of the day, it's one of those things of, 'We can't control that.' We control winning games, and if we do that, I feel like we've done our part."

Barrett won't be alone in suggesting that even without a Big Ten title Ohio State deserves to compete for a national championship. But whether or not that will be what happens remains to be seen. And, of course, there's still a possibility that the Buckeyes will be the East Division's representative in Indy. If Ohio State wins out (games at Michigan State and home against Michigan) and Penn State loses one of its remaining contests (games at Rutgers and home against Michigan State), the Buckeyes will play for a conference title.

But if that doesn't happen, let the lobbying begin.

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.