Big Ten

Penn State returns blocked field goal for TD to pull stunning upset of Buckeyes


Penn State returns blocked field goal for TD to pull stunning upset of Buckeyes

Ohio State is undefeated no more.

Thanks to a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown in the game's final five minutes, Penn State pulled off a stunning upset of the previously undefeated Buckeyes, 24-21, on Saturday night in Happy Valley.

The Nittany Lions trailed 21-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, getting three huge plays en route to a touchdown before kicking a field goal to bring them within four points. The Buckeyes went down the field and lined up for a field goal that would've put them up by a touchdown, but the kick was blocked, Grant Haley picking the ball up and returning it 60 yards for a crazy go-ahead score.

Here's the play:

Ohio State got the ball back with four and a half minutes remaining but couldn't get out of its own territory, J.T. Barrett sacked on third and fourth down to turn the ball over to Penn State and seal the game.

The game started with a sloppy first half, the Buckeyes scoring first with a field goal off a punt fumbled by the Lions. An 11-play, 78-yard touchdown drive capped a 26-yard pass from Barrett to Marcus Baugh made it a 9-0 game (thanks to a missed extra point), and after Ohio State added a field goal, Penn State stitched together a 74-yard drive finished off with a 20-yard pass from Trace McSorley to Chris Godwin for a touchdown, making the game 12-7 at halftime.

A monstrous 74-yard touchdown run by Curtis Samuel was immediately followed by an Ohio State safety, making the Buckeyes appear in complete control at 21-7.

But then came that fourth quarter, Penn State scoring on a drive that featured plays of 16, 37 and 35 yards. The capper was a two-yard rush by McSorley, and the Lions were within a touchdown. Then came that field goal and the ensuing blocked kick return for a score that served as the game-winner.

The score was hardly indicative of how productive the two teams were. Ohio State had a massive 413-276 advantage in total yardage, holding onto the ball for nearly 15 more minutes. The Buckeyes were 10-for-24 on third and fourth down, while the Lions were just 2-for-14. And while Barrett completed 28 passes, McSorley completed just eight. Barrett finished with 245 passing yards and a touchdown, while McSorley had 154 yards and a touchdown plus 63 rushing yards and a score on the ground.

Saquon Barkley had 99 rushing yards for Penn State, while Samuel and Mike Weber each had 71 rushing yards for Ohio State.

Saturday night's result dramatically shook up the Big Ten, removing Ohio State from the list of the conference's undefeated teams. The Buckeyes, at 6-1, can of course still win a slew of championships, but the margin for error has practically evaporated if they're going to reach the College Football Playoff.

The win sent Penn State to 5-2, and the Lions sit in second place in the Big Ten East Division standings behind only undefeated Michigan.

The Lions next take on Purdue, and the Buckeyes next take on Northwestern.

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.