Big Ten

Rise of Saquon Barkley continues as Penn State blasts Rutgers

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Rise of Saquon Barkley continues as Penn State blasts Rutgers

The rise of Saquon Barkley is continuing before our very eyes.

After a breakout performance in Penn State's Week 2 win over Buffalo, the true freshman running back had a monster game Saturday, leading the way as the Nittany Lions dominated Rutgers in a 28-3 win, the first Big Ten conference game of the season.

Barkely carried the ball 21 times for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the victory, a superb one-up of his big game last week, when he went for 115 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries. As could have been guessed considering the general sluggishness of the Penn State offense since James Franklin took over, Barkley's effective game was rewarded with nearly double the carries he had a week earlier. He seems to be the team's No. 1 back, getting twice as many carries Saturday as Akeel Lynch, who entered the season as the No. 1 back. Lynch had a big day Saturday, too, carrying the ball 10 times for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Maybe it was the Rutgers defense, which certainly struggled a week ago vs. Washington State, but this is some kind of showing from the Penn State rushing attack. The Lions were one of the Big Ten's worst rushing teams last season and briefly into this season but had a huge day on the ground with a whopping 330 yards.

Behind that huge rushing total, Penn State had a big offensive day, totaling 471 total offensive yards. Christian Hackenberg was again fairly mediocre, completing 10 of 19 passing attempts for 141 yards and no touchdowns with an interception.

[MORE BIG TEN: Defense keeps Buckeyes unbeaten, but offense struggles in win vs. NIU]

Rutgers, meanwhile, struggled mightily in the first game of head coach Kyle Flood's three-game suspension, not to mention amid the indefinite suspension of star wide receiver Leonte Carroo and the bevy of other off-field issues plaguing that program at the moment.

The Scarlet Knights totaled 294 yards of total offense, and they were particularly snuffed out on the ground, held to just 43 rush yards by the Lions' defense. Rutgers' leading carrier, Paul James, got 10 attempts but amassed just seven yards. Quarterback Chris Laviano threw for 251 yards but no touchdowns. Rutgers fumbled three times but only turned the ball over once.

It's a big win for Penn State, helping the Lions to continue to bounce back from that horrendous season-opening loss to Temple. It's two wins in a row now for Penn State, which sees its easy early season schedule continue with non-conference showdowns against San Diego State and Army in each of the next two games.

Meanwhile, the poor play on the field is beginning to match all the negative headlines off it for Rutgers. After throttling Norfolk State to open the season, it's been back-to-back defeats: a heartbreaking last-second loss to Washington State and a beatdown at the hands of Penn State. The Knights get Kansas next week.

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.