Big Ten

Northwestern crushed by Iowa for second straight blowout loss

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Northwestern crushed by Iowa for second straight blowout loss

EVANSTON — Two weeks ago, Northwestern was undefeated and boasted the best defense in college football.

Two weeks later? Not so much.

A week after getting blown out at Michigan, 38-0, Northwestern allowed another big day to an opponent, as undefeated Iowa stayed that way after handing the Cats a 40-10 loss Saturday at Ryan Field.

An injury to star Iowa running back Jordan Canzeri was reason for momentary concern in the first half, but backup running back Akrum Wadley turned in a monster performance, rushing 26 times for 204 yards and four touchdowns, powering the rout.

The Northwestern offense, which has struggled all season behind freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson, continued to look stuck in the mud for much of Saturday. A bad Thorson pass was intercepted by Big Ten picks leader Desmond King on one of the Cats’ first offensive plays of the day. The Northwestern defense responded, forcing a field goal on that drive, but the Northwestern offense didn’t do much to repay the other side of the ball.

Canzeri was injured on the next Iowa drive, but Wadley took over from there, capping a touchdown drive with a 35-yard scoring run. Northwestern followed that up with six straight incompletions, two straight three and outs and two bad punts, which easily led Iowa to its next touchdown to go up 16-0.

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Surprisingly, the Northwestern offense awoke from there, turning in a terrific offensive drive of 76 yards in 12 plays. Thorson launched a 34-yard pass completion to Mike McHugh to set up first and goal, and he hit a wide-open Christian Jones in the end zone to slice the deficit to 16-7. Momentum continued to shift when Traveon Henry picked off Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard on the next play, setting the Cats up at the 21-yard line. But that resulted in only a field goal, making it a 16-10 game at the half after Iowa missed a last-second field-goal try.

Despite a late-first-half flash of brilliance, things went back to bad for the Cats in the third quarter. Iowa went on an easy-looking touchdown drive, an 84-yard plow down the field that ended with Wadley’s third scoring run of the game. Thorson and Justin Jackson botched a handoff on the very next play, with Iowa recovering the fumble. A few plays later, Wadley was in the end zone again.

A few plays into the fourth quarter, Thorson was crushed on a sack, dropping the ball. The Hawkeyes recovered that fumble, too, resulting in another Iowa field goal. Later in the quarter, a 71-yard drive keyed by a 41-yard Wadley run ended in a 13-yard Derrick Mitchell touchdown run to make it a 30-point game.

Northwestern dropped to 5-2 with the loss, its second straight, and the Cats have been outscored 78-10 in their last two games.

Iowa, meanwhile, improved to a perfect 7-0 and put itself in complete control of the Big Ten West race.

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.