Big Ten

Michigan third, Buckeyes fifth, four Big Ten teams in top 10 of College Football Playoff rankings

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Michigan third, Buckeyes fifth, four Big Ten teams in top 10 of College Football Playoff rankings

Michigan would be in the College Football Playoff if the season ended today. Ohio State apparently still has some work to do.

No, there weren't two Big Ten teams in the top four of this week's College Football Playoff rankings. There was plenty of speculation that might've been the case after a mighty impressive 62-3 win for the Buckeyes over the 10th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers last weekend, not to mention No. 4 Texas A&M's loss to Mississippi State. But Ohio State did not jump undefeated Washington when the new rankings were released Tuesday night, with Alabama, Clemson and Michigan hanging on to the first, second and third spots, Washington coming in at No. 4 and Ohio State right outside the top four at No. 5.

All in all, there were four Big Ten teams in the top 10: third-ranked Michigan, fifth-ranked Ohio State, seventh-ranked Wisconsin and 10th-ranked Penn State. Aforementioned Nebraska plummeted from the 10th spot last week down to No. 19 this week.

The Wolverines are rolling, still unbeaten at 9-0 and riding high after a 59-3 beatdown of Maryland in Ann Arbor. Michigan has the No. 1 scoring defense in the country, allowing an average of 10.7 points per game, and the No. 3 scoring offense in the country, averaging 48 points per game. The Wolverines will be heavily favored in their next two games at Iowa and at home against Indiana, potentially setting up a monumental showdown at Ohio State on the final day of the regular season.

In order for that to happen, though, the Buckeyes will need to hold up their end of the bargain and continue winning over the next couple weeks. Any worries from an admittedly imperfect stretch that featured a loss to Penn State and narrow wins over Wisconsin and Northwestern have to be wiped away after Ohio State blew out Nebraska by nearly 60 points last weekend in Columbus. The Buckeyes fired on all imaginable cylinders in that game, the offense humming behind J.T. Barrett and the defense dominating by keeping a top-10 team out of the end zone and coming away with two interception-return touchdowns. Ohio State's next two games come against Maryland and Michigan State, both on the road, but will feature the Buckeyes as big favorites. And then The Game.

Sitting behind the conference's two top dogs are two teams that still technically have shots at winning the Big Ten title and reaching the College Football Playoff. Wisconsin, 7-2, is in the driver's seat in the Big Ten West Division despite a three-way tie at the top of the standings. The Badgers already have a head-to-head tiebreaker with Nebraska in the bank, and of course they will face off with rival Minnesota in the Axe Game on the final day of the regular season. Wisconsin plays lower-level Big Ten West teams Illinois and Purdue before that matchup with Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Penn State can still win the crowded Big Ten East Division should Ohio State or Michigan slip up en route to their regular-season finale. The Nittany Lions have a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Buckeyes. They would need the Wolverines to lose twice in the next three weeks to get past them and punch a ticket to Indianapolis. But certainly Penn State looks as good as anyone right now coming off a 41-14 destruction of Iowa last weekend. Penn State plays at Indiana and at Rutgers before wrapping the regular season with a home game against freefalling Michigan State.

Nebraska still has a spot in these rankings but fell nine spots following that massive defeat at Ohio State. The Huskers take on Minnesota this weekend before games against Maryland and Iowa before the regular season ends.

Here are the complete College Football Playoff selection committee top-25 rankings:

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Michigan
4. Washington
5. Ohio State
6. Louisville
7. Wisconsin
8. Texas A&M
9. Auburn
10. Penn State
11. Oklahoma
12. Colorado
13. Oklahoma State
14. Virginia Tech
15. Utah
16. West Virginia
17. North Carolina
18. Florida State
19. Nebraska
20. USC
21. Western Michigan
22. Boise State
23. Washington State
24. LSU
25. Arkansas

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.