Big Ten

Minneapolis trying to bring CFP title game to Big Ten Country


Minneapolis trying to bring CFP title game to Big Ten Country

If you're a Big Ten fan living in Big Ten Country, bowl games usually don't come with a home-field advantage.

Only two bowl games are currently played inside the admittedly expanding borders of Big Ten Country: the one at Ford Field in Detroit, most recently known as the Quick Lane Bowl, and the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York.

But that's it. Weather plays a big factor, of course. Who wants to go to a Midwestern city covered in ice and snow in late December when you could go to Florida or Southern California?

But Minneapolis, a major Midwestern city that's actually home to a Big Ten campus, is looking to change that. Not only do the Twin Cities want to bring a bowl game to Big Ten Country, they want to bring the biggest of the bowl games, the College Football Playoff national championship game, to Big Ten Country.

[MORE BIG TEN: Big Ten dominates spring game attendance list]

Minneapolis announced Tuesday that it is launching a bid to host the 2020 College Football Playoff national championship game. The game wouldn't be played outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the Golden Gophers, but rather at the new — and currently under-construction — home of the Minnesota Vikings.

That stadium is already slated to host the 2018 Super Bowl and the 2019 Final Four. Could the 2020 national title game be next?

It's status as an indoor venue certainly helps, as Minnesota in January has to be one of the least-desirable travel destinations in the country. But Midwestern cities have proved to be excellent hosts for big-time sporting events. Indianapolis, which announced it won't be bidding for an upcoming national title game, plays annual host to the Big Ten Championship Game and just wrapped up a highly lauded staging of the Final Four last month. Indy has hosted a Super Bowl, proving its worth as a big-time winter football venue right in the middle of the polar vortex-plagued Midwest. Minneapolis and Detroit have previously hosted Super Bowls, too. Chicago just concluded its first hosting of the NFL Draft in 50 years and will host an NCAA tournament regional next year. Indy and Chicago also trade off hosting duties for the Big Ten men's basketball tournament.

Now Minneapolis is trying to get in on the action, and a gleaming new stadium ought to help.

[MORE BIG TEN: A couple award-winners headline list of B1G undrafted free agents]

“We bid for these super-sensational events because they provide jobs, because they bring people from all over the country, in fact all over the world to the stadium to tout the virtues of living in Minneapolis, even in January,” Minnesota governor Mark Dayton said at the announcement, his quote published by the Star Tribune. “I’m very optimistic that we can make a competitive bid.”

The Star Tribune points out that cities bidding in the College Football Playoff's "bidding cycle" means they're in the running for the championship games in 2018, 2019 and 2020. But Minneapolis specified that it's targeting just that 2020 game. The report also lists Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., Miami, San Antonio and Santa Clara, Calif., as other cities expected to bid.

And the city is getting some help from its current college football superstar:

Kill has done nothing but win in the past couple seasons, so perhaps his involvement will bring the Twin Cities some good fortune.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


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


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.