Big Ten

Same as it ever was: Hoosiers O great, D bad vs. Southern Illinois

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Same as it ever was: Hoosiers O great, D bad vs. Southern Illinois

We don’t need to search for words to describe Indiana football because Talking Heads already supplied them for us.

Same as it ever was.

In Saturday’s season-opening win over Southern Illinois, the Indiana offense was explosive and prolific and the Indiana defense was unable to stop anything.

Same as it ever was.

The Hoosiers have had that identity for the past few seasons now, that of an offense that has the capability to rack up yardage and points with anyone and a defense that could give up touchdown after touchdown to even the most otherwise-lethargic of opposing offenses.

Saturday was the perfect example of that.

[MORE BIG TEN: Stuff to clean up, but Clayton Thorson leads Cats to 'W' in first start]

Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld, in his first game back from injury, completed 19 passes for 349 yards and a touchdown. Indiana running back Jordan Howard, in his first game with the Hoosiers after transferring in from UAB, carried the ball 20 times for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Indiana piled on 48 points and 595 total yards of offense.

But as electric as the offense was, the defense made Southern Illinois — an FCS opponent that finished 2014 with a 6-6 record — look like Oregon. The visiting Salukis posted 47 points and 659 yards of total offense. On a day the Hoosiers nearly hit the 600-yard mark, they were still out-gained by 64 yards.

The only reason the Hoosiers didn’t lose Saturday was because of a risky decision by Southern Illinois, to go for two after scoring a touchdown to bring the score within a point with 18 seconds left in the game. The two-point conversion would have been successful had the Southern Illinois receiver not dropped a pass on the goal line. He heard footsteps.

[MORE BIG TEN: QB controversy? Hayden Rettig, Chris Laviano both excel in Rutgers win]

So as Indiana continually looks to improve under head coach Kevin Wilson, what has changed?

The offense is terrific, and though it was against an FCS defense, it’s easy to see flashes of the 2013 season that Sudfeld posted, when the Hoosiers were the No. 1 passing team in the Big Ten, and the 2014 campaign that former Indiana running back Tevin Coleman had, when he became one of just a handful of running backs in FBS history to go for more than 2,000 yards in a season.

But, as Indiana has routinely demonstrated since Wilson took over, it’s near impossible to win games when there’s no defense being played. Shootouts are al well and good unless you’re not winning any of them.

Indiana barely survived Southern Illinois on Saturday. What happens when Ohio State and Michigan State come calling? No one is expecting Indiana to win those games anyway, but what about opponents like Rutgers and Maryland, who combined to score 113 points — and allow just a combined 34 — in their wins over FCS foes on Saturday? Will Indiana be able to slow them down?

Nothing yet has indicated that they will. Same as it ever was.

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.