Big Ten

Penn State's Trace McSorley-led comeback falls short in TaxSlayer Bowl loss

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Penn State's Trace McSorley-led comeback falls short in TaxSlayer Bowl loss

The Big Ten didn’t do so hot against the SEC this bowl season.

For the third time in three days, a Big Ten team fell to an SEC team as Penn State lost to Georgia, 24-17, in the TaxSlayer Bowl, bringing the conference’s record against the SEC to 1-3 this postseason.

Despite losing quarterback Christian Hackenberg to a shoulder injury in the second quarter, the Nittany Lions had an opportunity to tie the game in the final seconds. Backup quarterback Trace McSorley threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes to bring Penn State within seven, but Georgia defenders batted down McSorley’s Hail Mary attempt as time ran out.

McSorley performed well, completing 14 of his 27 passes for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hackenberg completed just eight passes for 139 yards and an interception prior to his exit.

In a battle between two of the country’s top defenses, Penn State actually out-gained Georgia, 401-327. But the Lions couldn’t chip into that Bulldogs defense until late in the game.

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Penn State mustered just a field goal in the first half, trailing by two touchdowns at halftime thanks to a 44-yard touchdown throw from wide receiver Terry Godwin and a 17-yard scoring toss from quarterback Greyson Lambert that Godwin caught.

The Bulldogs added another touchdown in the third quarter to make it a seemingly unsurmountable 24-3 advantage. But McSorley hit Geno Lewis from 17 yards out for a score seconds into the fourth quarter. And with a little more than six minutes left, McSorley found DaeSean Hamilton from 20 yards out, the receiver making a great catch to slash Georgia’s lead to just seven at 24-17.

Georgia reached the Penn State 23-yard line on the ensuing drive but turned the ball over on downs with about a minute and a half to play. McSorley took the Lions downfield, at one point completing four straight passes and picking up a huge first down with a 14-yard run on fourth and five inside of 20 seconds to play. But his heave from the Georgia 39-yard line was unsuccessful.

The loss sent Penn State to a 7-6 finish on the season.

Though head coach James Franklin said Hackenberg’s injury wasn’t too serious, it did mark the end of his Penn State career, as the junior quarterback told reporters following the loss that he was declaring for the NFL Draft.

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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USA TODAY

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.