Big Ten

Northwestern two-for-two after throttling Eastern Illinois


Northwestern two-for-two after throttling Eastern Illinois

Another week, another team kept out of the end zone by the Northwestern defense.

Two games into the 2015 season, the Cats have yet to allow a touchdown, following up their big season-opening win over Stanford with a 41-0 throttling of FCS opponent Eastern Illinois on Saturday in Evanston.

Few were expecting the upset victory in Week 1, but this one could have been predicted, as Eastern — coming off a 33-5 loss to Western Illinois in its first game — doesn’t provide quite the test Stanford does.

But Northwestern was still impressive despite the big step down in competition. The Cats out-gained the Panthers, 496-138, rushing for a whopping 344 yards. The Cats scored at will, reaching the end zone four times and getting a fifth touchdown on an interception return.

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini crush Western Illinois, two straight dominant wins under Cubit]

Northwestern got back on track offensively after scoring just one touchdown itself last week. The Cats’ huge day on the ground helped offset another light passing day in Clayton Thorson’s second career game. Justin Jackson led the way with 78 yards and a touchdown, and Warren Long had a big day as the No. 2 back, rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown. Two other ball carriers went over 50 yards, and three more went over 20. Thorson added his own rushing score.

Through the air, Thorson completed 11 of his 16 passing attempts for 152 yards and a touchdown.

But the defense was again the story. Anthony Walker led the team in tackles for the second straight week with seven, two of which were tackles for loss. The Cats got three sacks as a team. And Matt Harris had two interceptions, including the one returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Northwestern is rolling at 2-0, a pleasant turnaround from last season’s 0-2 start. Another tough challenge awaits next weekend, when the Cats visit the Duke Blue Devils in North Carolina.

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.