Big Ten

J.T. Barrett's big day sparks even more QB controversy for Buckeyes

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J.T. Barrett's big day sparks even more QB controversy for Buckeyes

It’s tempting to say that Ohio State’s quarterback controversy has returned, though to be honest, it really never went anywhere.

But this is perhaps the loudest it’s been in a while following a monster day for J.T. Barrett, the No. 2 quarterback, in the Buckeyes’ 38-10 pounding of Penn State on Saturday night in Columbus. Barrett rushed for two touchdowns and threw two touchdown passes, accounting for the difference in the score.

Folks have been clamoring for Barrett to take over for current starter Cardale Jones for quite some time now, many believing it should’ve been Barrett to win the job in the first place. With Jones playing fine but not blowing the doors off competition the way he did during three postseason wins en route to a national championship last season, fans and observers are seeing plenty reason to sit him down in favor of Barrett.

But is there really a reason to make any changes at all right now?

For all the panic over Ohio State’s offense earlier this season — and it seems that panic resurfaces in the early stages of practically every game — the Buckeyes have been a terrifically productive offensive team in almost every game. Ohio State has scored at least 34 points all but once, including four times in a row. Ezekiel Elliott is running wild out of the backfield, just like most everyone predicted he would, rushing for at least 100 yards in all seven of the Buckeyes' wins.

And, truth be told, the unconventional quarterback rotation that Meyer has employed has actually worked pretty well the past two games. He uses Jones (and the players around him, of course) to get downfield, and he puts Barrett in to close the deal. All that strategy has produced is back-to-back blowout wins and a streak of successful red-zone trips. Barrett has a total of seven touchdowns in the last two games (two passing, five rushing).

But you might want to credit the strategy rather than assume Barrett is worlds better than Jones. After the Ohio State offense has racked up scores of yards moving downfield on the opposing defense, Meyer throws Barrett at that tired defensive unit, and a well-rested, dual-threat player — who also happens to be the same guy who was one of the best quarterbacks in college football last season — hits that defense like a lightning bolt.

Penn State boasts one of the nation’s best defenses. Barrett and Elliott tore it up for a combined 255 rushing yards. You think the defense needing to shift gears to defend different quarterbacks had something to do with that? I’m guessing it did.

This isn’t to say that things wouldn’t be better if Jones took a seat and Barrett took over full time. Maybe they would be. But things are also pretty good right now. Using both Jones and Barrett has worked, as much as people would rather see just one guy on the field the entire game.

So give Meyer a break, OK? Maybe the guy who’s won 20 games in a row knows what he’s doing.

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.