Big Ten

No drama in this year's College Football Playoff picks, but how will seeding turn out?


No drama in this year's College Football Playoff picks, but how will seeding turn out?

INDIANAPOLIS — Last year at this time, the College Football Playoff selection show wasn't just must-see TV, it was edge-of-your-seat viewing.

This year? Not so much.

Unless the selection committee hurls the curve ball to end all curve balls Sunday, we already know which four teams will compete for a national championship.

No. 1 Clemson continued its undefeated campaign with a win over North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. No. 2 Alabama took care of business against Florida to win the SEC Championship Game. No. 3 Oklahoma had the weekend off after winning the Big 12 championship last weekend. And No. 5 Michigan State edged No. 4 Iowa to win the Big Ten Championship Game.

So there you go, there are your four teams.

No, one-loss Ohio State won't be making a late push. And with two losses, Pac-12 champion Stanford won't be able to unseat any of the other Power 5 champs.

Selection Sunday is going to be chalk, and we're just going to have to deal with it.

[MORE BIG TEN: Though Playoff awaits, Spartans can count mission at least partly accomplished]

The only unknowns at this point are where the teams will be seeded and who will play who.

Predicting what the selection committee will do often seems like the most futile of exercises, but here's a stab.

Clemson should remain No. 1. The Tigers are college football's last remaining undefeated squad, and they got all they could handle from a North Carolina team that's played extremely well this season and deserved the top-10 ranking it took into Saturday's game. It makes for one of Clemson's more-impressive wins of the season and gives the Tigers three wins over current top-10 teams. Not bad at all.

From there, things get a little more hazy.

If you're going based on resume, it should be Michigan State at No. 2. After all, Saturday night's win over Iowa completed a quartet of sensational wins for the Spartans this season, two of them coming against teams currently ranked in the top six, two more coming against the Nos. 15 and 16 teams in the rankings and three of the four coming away from East Lansing. No team in the country has four wins like that, and a case could be made Michigan State should be ranked ahead of Clemson. Though that seems unlikely.

If you're going based on who's playing the best football of late, the No. 2 spot could go to Oklahoma. The Sooners didn't have a shot to impress on championship weekend thanks to the Big 12 schedule and its lack of a conference title game. But that shouldn't remove too much luster from a terrific finish to the season by Oklahoma, as it gained wins over ranked opponents Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State on three consecutive weekends, winning the last one by seven touchdowns.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Spartans gear right here]

And then there's the old notion of not dropping after a win. The committee has had its opportunities to place Oklahoma in front of Alabama as the Sooners have piled up impressive late-season wins and the Tide have beaten teams from what has been this season a weaker SEC than usual. Alabama's wins over Charleston Southern and Auburn came the same weekends as Oklahoma's wins over TCU and Oklahoma State, and the committee didn't budge on the Tide at No. 2. Perhaps that's the way things stay.

It's really just a guess, but here's saying the committee keeps Clemson at No. 1, slides Oklahoma up to No. 2, puts Michigan State at No. 3 and drops Alabama to No. 4 considering its path to its conference championship was the easiest and least impressive of the four, with Florida not putting up any kind of fight on Saturday while Clemson and Michigan State had to grind out closer victories against really good teams, proving a bit more in the process.

But again, who knows what the committee is thinking. We'll all find out Sunday.

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.