Big Ten

Six Big Ten teams in final AP poll after Alabama's title-game win


Six Big Ten teams in final AP poll after Alabama's title-game win

After winning a mighty entertaining national championship game on Monday night, it was no surprise that Alabama earned the country's No. 1 ranking when the final AP poll was released on Tuesday.

Despite having what many viewed as an ugly bowl season, though, it was the Big Ten leading all conferences with six teams in the final set of rankings, adding something to the argument that it was the nation's top conference this season.

No, the Big Ten didn't have a representative in Monday night's title bout, in which SEC champion Alabama defeated ACC champion Clemson, 45-40. But the conference finished with three teams in the top 10 with No. 4 Ohio State, No. 6 Michigan State and No. 9 Iowa. Three others teams were ranked throughout the top 25: No. 12 Michigan, No. 21 Wisconsin and No. 24 Northwestern.

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Ohio State had many thinking it was the Big Ten team that should have been playing in the College Football Playoff after a terrific performance in a 44-28 win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. That win capped a 12-1 season for the team that was the first-ever unanimous preseason No. 1 and sent Urban Meyer to 50-4 in four seasons as the Buckeyes head coach.

Michigan State got to the Playoff fair and square and deserved its spot, winning the Big Ten Championship Game for the second time in three seasons. Despite never leading until after the clock ran out in two of its signature wins against Ohio State and Michigan, the Spartans found a way to win and perhaps boasted a group of victories — with the aforementioned wins added to ones over Oregon and Iowa — better than that of any team in the country heading into the Playoff. Of course, Michigan State's postseason did not go well, as the Spartans were routed 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl by the eventual national champions.

Iowa experienced its all-time winningest season in program history with a spectacular 12-0 regular season, one of just two teams in college football to do that this season, the other being national runner-up Clemson. The dream season ended with a thud, losses to Michigan State and Stanford, the latter being a 45-16 shellacking in the Rose Bowl. But the Hawkeyes still got their due for a terrific campaign, and Kirk Ferentz won multiple national coach of the year awards.

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Michigan played just one bad game all season, a 41-7 loss to Ohio State, and ended up with double-digit victories in the first season under Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh turned the team around in a flash, taking it to a 10th win in the Citrus Bowl with a 41-7 pounding of Florida a season after the Wolverines won just five games and missed a bowl.

Wisconsin was another one of the Big Ten's bowl-season bright spots, defeating USC by a 23-21 score in the Holiday Bowl to earn its 10th victory of the year. The Badgers had one of the nation's top defenses all season and should be on to even better things with a healthy Corey Clement next season.

And despite a lopsided 45-6 loss to Tennessee in the Outback Bowl, it was a remarkable season for Northwestern, which won 10 games for just the fourth time in program history. The Cats also had one of the country's best defenses from wire to wire and boasted a big win over Stanford in the season opener. The Cardinal finished as the No. 3 team in the country.

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

Here's a look at the entire final AP top-25 rankings:

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Stanford
4. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma
6. Michigan State
7. TCU
8. Houston
9. Iowa
10. Ole Miss
11. Notre Dame
12. Michigan
13. Baylor
14. Florida State
15. North Carolina
16. LSU
17. Utah
18. Navy
19. Oregon
20. Oklahoma State
21. Wisconsin
22. Tennessee
23. Northwestern
24. Western Kentucky
25. Florida

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.