Big Ten

Michigan keeps East title hopes alive with win over Penn State

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Michigan keeps East title hopes alive with win over Penn State

Though perhaps only for a few hours, Michigan kept its hopes of winning the Big Ten East Division title alive.

The Wolverines defeated Penn State on Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley, 28-16, doing their part to set up a potential Big Ten title game play-in game next weekend against rival Ohio State.

Should the Buckeyes defeat Michigan State on Saturday, Michigan and Ohio State would meet next weekend in Ann Arbor to determine the East Division champion.

Penn State got a 56-yard run from Saquon Barkley on its first offensive drive of the game and got all the way to the six-yard line but were forced into a field goal.

Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock responded with 88 passing yards on the next drive, finishing it off with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jake Butt.

The offenses went silent for a while after that, with the teams' next eight drives ending in seven punts and an interception. But the quarterbacks provided some fireworks at the end of the first half, with Christian Hackenberg hitting Saeed Blacknall for a 25-yard touchdown and Rudock answering with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Amara Darboh to cap a 70-yard drive.

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Michigan led by four at the half but created some space on a Penn State mistake, when the Lions muffed a fair-catch punt in the third quarter, turning the ball back over to the Wolverines inside the five-yard line. Two plays after Jehu Chesson fell on the fumble, full back Sione Houma rushed in for a touchdown.

Penn State got its opportunity, when Brandon Bell forced a Rudock fumble on a sack. Hackenberg led the team all the way inside the five-yard line with a 38-yard pass to Chris Godwin. But again the Wolverines' defense stood tall and forced a field goal. It happened again, too, with the Lions getting all the way to the one-yard line but again forced to kick a field goal. That made it a five-point game, but Penn State didn't score again, and a De'Veon Smith touchdown run later in the fourth to put the game out of reach.

Michigan's defense was sensational, holding Penn State to a eye-poppingly low 207 total yards, 56 of those coming on one play on the first drive of the game.

Rudock threw for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Hackenberg threw for 137 yards and one touchdown.

The win kept Michigan's hopes alive, at least momentarily, for a spot in the Big Ten title game, boosting its record to 9-2 and 6-1 in conference play.

Penn State dropped to 7-4 with the loss.

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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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.