Big Ten

Penn State gets Georgia in TaxSlayer Bowl


Penn State gets Georgia in TaxSlayer Bowl

In certain seasons, Penn State vs. Georgia would be a national-championship-caliber game.

Not so much this season, but it should still be an intriguing matchup in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2 in Jacksonville.

The Nittany Lions are in the postseason for the second straight season under James Franklin after the lifting of a two-year bowl ban stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Penn State finished the regular season at 7-5, one better than the 6-6 mark in Franklin's first year. Last season, the Lions bested Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl for win No. 7. This season, a postseason victory would be the season's eighth, the highest single-season total since 2012.

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The Lions have been in this bowl — which used to be the Gator Bowl — four other times, but they haven't played in the game since 1976.

Penn State and Georgia have played just one time, in the 1983 Sugar Bowl, when the Lions scored a 27-23 win over the Bulldogs to win the national championship.

A little less will be on the line this time around. Georgia finished the regular season at 9-3, firing head coach Mark Richt, who'd been in charge of the program since 2001.

This is one of four games this bowl season pitting a Big Ten team against an SEC team. Additionally, Northwestern plays Tennessee in the Outback Bowl, Michigan meets Florida in the Citrus Bowl and Michigan State will take on Alabama in the Cotton Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff.

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.