Big Ten

QB change goes swimmingly for Buckeyes as J.T. Barrett goes off

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QB change goes swimmingly for Buckeyes as J.T. Barrett goes off

Well, I think we have our answer.

Who should've been the Buckeyes' starting quarterback from Day 1? Probably J.T. Barrett.

It's not to take anything away from Cardale Jones, who is obviously a very good football player. And, hey, Ohio State has yet to lose a game he's started. That counts for something.

But Barrett, based on his electric performance in his first start of 2015 in Saturday's 49-7 destruction of Rutgers, probably should have been doing this all along.

Barrett accounted for five total touchdowns — continuing the pattern from the last two games, when he scored three against Indiana and four against Penn State — as the Buckeyes rolled over the Scarlet Knights like one of those pavement-flattener things. Barrett completed 14 of his 18 passing attempts for 223 yards (15.9 yards per completion) and a trio of touchdown tosses, including scoring passes of 50 and 30 yards. He also rushed 13 times for 101 yards (7.8 yards per carry) and two more touchdowns.

[MORE BIG TEN: Banged-up Illini can't keep up with banged-up Badgers in loss]

Barrett led an offensive effort that matched the Buckeyes' highest point total of the season and produced 528 total yards.

This is the kind of game that Barrett had repeatedly a season ago, when he was one of the best quarterbacks in the country, leading the Buckeyes to an 11-1 regular-season record and finishing fifth in balloting for the Heisman Trophy. It's games like this one that had many fans and observers saying that he was the correct choice to start at quarterback back in August. Jones' postseason accomplishments were mighty impressive, but Barrett did things so well for such a long period of time.

There's no need chiding Urban Meyer, as Ohio State remains undefeated and will almost surely hang on to the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll Sunday afternoon. Even if this goes down as the "wrong" choice in hindsight, opting for Jones for seven games rather than Barrett, those are still seven games that Meyer's team won. Saturday's win gave him 150 career wins. The Buckeyes have won 21 games in a row.

What Barrett's insertion as the starter means is that Ohio State gets even scarier, and perhaps the Buckeyes have finally reached the level of dominance everyone expected when this season began.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Buckeyes gear right here]

Yes, it was only Rutgers, but Ohio State out-gained its opponent by 235 yards, outscored its opponent by six touchdowns and would have had a shutout if not for a Rutgers touchdown in the game's final seconds. Apart from all of Barrett's statistics mentioned earlier, Ezekiel Elliott had another ho-hum 100-yard game, carrying the ball 19 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He has rushed for triple-digit yardage in 13 straight games and still looks like the Big Ten's best shot at the Heisman. Wide receiver Michael Thomas caught five passes for 103 yards and that 50-yard touchdown.

If Jones was capable of leading a team that was scoring more than 30 points a game and beating every opponent it lined up against, maybe it's Barrett who will unleash the full potential of a team that was gaining preseason attention as maybe one of college football's all-time best.

The Buckeyes have games against Minnesota and Illinois before its back-to-back helpings of teams from the Great Lakes State. The bout with Michigan State on Nov. 21 in Columbus could pit two undefeated top-10 teams against one another and determine everything from who wins the Big Ten East to who makes the College Football Playoff. And with Michigan playing so well this season, the Nov. 28 game between the Buckeyes and Wolverines will have more buzz than it's had in years.

Ohio State has been firmly entrenched in the Playoff and national-championship discussions all season long. Barrett had the Buckeyes looking like a team that could beat anybody on Saturday night in New Jersey.

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.