Big Ten

Rutgers going with Chris Laviano as starting quarterback


Rutgers going with Chris Laviano as starting quarterback

It’s not often a decision on a starting quarterback comes before a team’s second game of the season, but it’s been an unusual set of circumstances at Rutgers.

Head coach Kyle Flood named Chris Laviano the Scarlet Knights’ starting quarterback on Monday, potentially bringing a conclusion to a position battle that has stretched more than a week into the regular season.

Laviano was suspended for the first half of the team’s season-opening win against Norfolk State on Saturday after missing curfew and using a fake I.D. That meant Hayden Rettig got the nod in the opener, but Laviano replaced Rettig after halftime and pitched a trio of second-half touchdown passes to star wideout Leonte Carroo.

Heading into a Week 2 showdown with Washington State, it will be Laviano for Rutgers, as Flood finalized a quarterback competition that bled over from the preseason into the season.

“This process went longer than I expected it to. As I said Saturday after the game, I didn't anticipate it going this long,” Flood said Monday. “But what it did for us was provide a large body of work — two scrimmages, an actual game where we could watch them play in the stadium — and all those things factored into it.”

[MORE BIG TEN: Big Ten Power Rankings: Buckeyes, Northwestern open with a bang]

Rettig played well in the first half Saturday, completing nine of his 11 passing attempts for 110 yards and a touchdown, adding 17 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. But Flood tabbed Laviano after halftime, and Laviano needed just four passes — all completions — to throw for 138 yards and a trio of touchdowns.

The halftime switch raised plenty of speculation that perhaps Laviano had won the job prior to the opener and that the only reason Rettig started the opener was Laviano’s suspension.

But Flood didn’t really commit to either quarterback for the long term Monday.

“The only thing that I'm focused on right now is being 1-0 this week,” Flood said.

“Chris is the starting quarterback right now. And I don't want any player in our program looking over their shoulder worried that they would be pulled out of a game because they made a mistake. Right now Chris is the starting quarterback.”

Behind both quarterbacks, Rutgers crushed Norfolk State, 63-13.

The Knights host Washington State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

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.