Big Ten

Northwestern holds off Huskers to end two-game skid

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Northwestern holds off Huskers to end two-game skid

Another Northwestern-Nebraska matchup, another nail-biting finish. But this time, Northwestern ended up on the winning end.

The Wildcats got big plays from quarterback Clayton Thorson and a terrific defensive effort much of the afternoon to hold off the Huskers for a 30-28 road win Saturday afternoon in Lincoln.

The win ended Northwestern's two-game skid and was the team's sixth victory of the season. After back-to-back seasons without bowl appearances, the Cats will be going to the postseason this year.

Thorson didn't have much luck throwing the ball in the first half, but he made a couple huge contributions with his legs, rushing for big gains of 68 and 49 yards in the first 30 minutes. Both those runs set up scores, the first a Thorson touchdown run and the second a field goal after Christian Jones dropped what would have been a touchdown pass right before halftime.

[MORE BIG TEN: Can Ezekiel Elliott catch Leonard Fournette in the Heisman race?]

The Cats also got a 72-yard interception-return touchdown from Nick VanHoose in the second quarter, and Northwestern went to the break with a 17-12 lead, despite the Huskers' huge statistical advantages in total yardage and time of possession.

Nebraska responded out of the half with a brilliant six-minute touchdown drive by Tommy Armstrong and Nebraska's offense, one that saw the Huskers convert five times on third down.

Northwestern went right downfield after that go-ahead score and settled for a red-zone field goal for the second time on the day, again taking the lead at 20-19.

After the Huskers again grabbed the lead with a field goal of their own, the Cats went 77 yards in two and a half minutes and got a go-ahead touchdown on a 37-yard pass from Thorson to Dan Vitale. That made it 27-22, and Northwestern didn't trail again.

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After the Cats had to again settle for a field goal on a red-zone trip, Armstrong led another touchdown drive and nearly tied the game in the waning minutes. He scored on a quarterback keeper, but the two-point conversion attempt failed. Northwestern took over and ran the clock out to hold on for the win.

Thorson completed just four passes for 16 yards in the first half, but he finished with 177 passing yards and a touchdown pass. He rushed for 106 yards in the first half and finished with 126 yards on the ground. Northwestern managed to narrow the gap in total yardage, finishing with Nebraska in front, 373-333, in that department.

The Northwestern defense played very well Saturday, holding Nebraska to just 82 rushing yards. Defensive lineman Dean Lowry had 10 tackles, six tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.

Armstrong finished completing 24 of his 48 passing attempts for 291 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Armstrong added two touchdown runs.

The win bumped Northwestern to 6-2 on the season and cemented a ticket to a bowl game. Nebraska, meanwhile, dropped to 3-5 on the season. The Huskers' five losses have come by a staggering 13 combined points.

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.