Big Ten

Northwestern becomes first FBS team ever to win three straight games in overtime

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USA TODAY

Northwestern becomes first FBS team ever to win three straight games in overtime

The Cardiac Cats were at it again.

For the first time ever, an FBS team won three straight games in overtime. That team? Northwestern. The Wildcats grabbed an overtime win at Nebraska on Saturday, the third in a row they won in extra time.

This one didn't require the three overtime periods that last week's upset of Michigan State did, but it involved some late heroics nonetheless.

The Huskers took a 21-17 lead on a pick six in the third quarter, but Cats quarterback Clayton Thorson redeemed himself with a game-tying touchdown run in the fourth quarter, a seven-yard scoring dash that knotted the score at 24 with five and a half minutes to go. That touchdown drive was setup by Godwin Igwebuike's interception of Tanner Lee with Nebraska inside the red zone.

Then Pat Fitzgerald put on his riverboat-gambler hat in overtime, sending his offense back out on fourth and goal from the one-yard line, with Thorson plunging in for the go-ahead score. Northwestern's defense forced a three and out on Nebraska's ensuing possession, ending the game.

The Cats racked up 475 total yards in this, their fourth straight win. Justin Jackson rushed for 154 yards. Jackson, Thorson and Jeremy Larkin combined to score four rushing touchdowns. The Northwestern defense picked off Lee three times.

Saturday's win followed the triple-overtime victory over Michigan State and the win prior, an overtime victory against Iowa. Northwestern now boasts a 6-3 overall record and a 4-2 mark in Big Ten play. Though two games behind unbeaten Wisconsin, Northwestern is all alone in second place in the Big Ten West.

And after a crazy day in the conference, only Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State have better conference records than the Cats.

Illinois came close to adding Divison I hockey team before coronavirus spread

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NBC Sports Chicago

Illinois came close to adding Divison I hockey team before coronavirus spread

After trying to add a Division I men's ice hockey program at the University of Illinois for nearly three years, the school was finally close. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The Chicago Tribune reported Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman told media on Monday that the university was forced to "hit the pause button" on the hopes and dreams of alums, sports fans and young hockey players with midwest ties. 

“Clearly with everything that’s changed here in the last six weeks, it makes sense for us to hit the — at least the short-term — pause button on that project while we wait and let things unfold in the weeks and months ahead,” Whitman said.

According to Whitman, U of I was about a month away from forming the program before the pandemic changed things.

The state of Illinois produces the fourth-most college hockey players but has no Division I hockey team yet. 

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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.