Big Ten

Northwestern going back to Outback Bowl

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Northwestern going back to Outback Bowl

Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern will be back in a familiar setting as they look to complete the winningest season in program history.

The Cats are heading to the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day, where they will square off against the Tennessee Volunteers. It's the same bowl game Fitzgerald's Cats played in on Jan. 1, 2010, a wild overtime loss to Auburn during which Mike Kafka threw for 532 yards.

“Our entire football family is thrilled for the opportunity to cap the 2015 campaign and kick off 2016 at the Outback Bowl,” Fitzgerald said in the announcement. "We’re grateful for the opportunity to take the field one more time in what has been a special season for our student-athletes. The Wildcats last visit to Tampa was one of the most memorable games in Northwestern history, we’re looking forward to another unforgettable Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day."

“This is a tremendous honor and opportunity for our student-athletes,” athletics director Jim Phillips said. “Their remarkable accomplishments in the classroom, in the community and in competition, makes the Northwestern family proud each day. Wildcats across the country and around the world look forward to celebrating the New Year together in Tampa at the Outback Bowl."

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

The Cats have played the Vols just once before. Coincidentally, that was Fitzgerald's final game as a player for the Cats, the Citrus Bowl to cap the 1996 season. Northwestern lost that game, 48-28.

The Cats have already turned in one of just four 10-win seasons in program history, losing just twice during the regular season and earning the No. 13 spot in the final College Football Playoff rankings. An 11th win against Tennessee would mean the first-ever 11-win season for a Northwestern team.

This is just the 12th all-time trip to a bowl game for Northwestern, though Fitzgerald has made it a habit, leading the Cats to six of those postseason games. The Cats missed a bowl in each of the past two seasons but secured a spot in a pretty high-level one this season.

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.