Big Ten

Northwestern's offense goes missing as Penn State sends Cats to blowout loss

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USA TODAY

Northwestern's offense goes missing as Penn State sends Cats to blowout loss

When you're in the dairy aisle at Jewel this week, don't be surprised to see Northwestern's offense on the back of a milk carton.

The Wildcats couldn't get much of anything going on that side of the ball, wasting what early on was a strong defensive performance before visiting Penn State ran away with a 31-7 win Saturday afternoon in Evanston.

The early story was Northwestern's defense silencing Heisman-favorite running back Saquon Barkley, who had a negative rushing total at halftime and well into the second half. Penn State's explosive offense managed just 10 points in the game's first 30 minutes.

But Barkley and the Nittany Lions showed up after halftime. The star running back scored on a leaping one-yard touchdown rush to put Penn State up by 17 in the third quarter. Then he had his Heisman moment of the week, bursting away from the Northwestern defense for a 53-yard scoring dash about seven minutes later.

Barkley finished with 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The Cats' solid defensive play early was completely forgotten by the time the Lions grabbed a 31-0 lead in the fourth quarter, but the story of the day for Northwestern was its offense's glaring ineffectiveness. Of course, Penn State deserves a great deal of credit. But for the second straight week, a top-10 conference opponent barraged quarterback Clayton Thorson. The Cats turned the ball over three times, including a pair of Thorson interceptions. All those turnovers came in the first half. Thorson threw for just 142 yards and zero touchdowns.

Justin Jackson was again mostly a non-factor, rushing 16 times for 66 yards and no touchdowns. He had a big 30-yard run in the first half, but that was negated by a penalty, one of a few critical flags to go against Northwestern in that first half. A defensive holding call wiped away an interception, allowing Penn State to finish off that drive with a field goal.

On the day, the Cats mustered just 265 yards of offense and had 74 penalty yards compared to the Lions, who finished with 381 total yards and just 30 yards of penalties.

Northwestern has somewhat expectedly struggled in the first two games of conference play, falling in back-to-back contests to Wisconsin and Penn State, two teams who could once again meet for a Big Ten title at season's end. The Cats fell to 2-3 on the season with the loss.

Penn State, meanwhile, reached bowl eligibility with its sixth win. A perfect 6-0, the Lions have outscored opponents 238-54.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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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.