Big Ten

Spartans earn No. 3 seed, will face Alabama in College Football Playoff

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Spartans earn No. 3 seed, will face Alabama in College Football Playoff

Saturday night, Michigan State won a Big Ten championship. Sunday, the Spartans learned where and who they will play in the College Football Playoff.

Michigan State earned the No. 3 seed in the sport's final four Sunday when the field was announced. The Spartans will face No. 2 seed Alabama and former head coach Nick Saban in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Eve. The Spartans played in and won the Cotton Bowl last season.

No. 1 Clemson will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl in the other national semifinal.

Michigan State jumped up from the No. 5 seed in last week's College Football Playoff rankings after defeating No. 4 Iowa in Saturday night's Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. Behind a terrific defensive effort and an incredible nine-minute touchdown drive to take the lead with 27 seconds remaining, the Spartans did enough to impress the committee and jump to the No. 3 spot.

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The Spartans' season looked doomed after an upset loss to Nebraska on Nov. 7. But Michigan State pulled off the biggest win of its regular season two weeks later, going into Columbus without quarterback Connor Cook and knocking off Ohio State with a walk-off field goal. Then came a pounding of Penn State to close the regular season, followed by a win over previously undefeated Iowa on Saturday night.

Michigan State finished with four superb wins over highly ranked opponents, beating Oregon, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa.

For the second straight season, the Big Ten champion is into the field of four, Michigan State following Ohio State from last season, when the Buckeyes went on to win the national championship.

And for the second straight season, the Big Ten champion gets Alabama in a national semifinal. The Buckeyes knocked off the Tide in last season's Sugar Bowl.

 

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.

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.