Big Ten

Spartans finally get their blowout win thanks to huge fourth quarter vs. Hoosiers


Spartans finally get their blowout win thanks to huge fourth quarter vs. Hoosiers

Michigan State has an undefeated record and a top-10 ranking, but their status as a College Football Playoff contender has taken a bit of a hit of late, as the Spartans haven't exactly scored any style points with narrow wins over Purdue, Rutgers and Michigan in recent weeks.

Well, Saturday, Mark Dantonio's team finally got the blowout win that's evaded it since the start of Big Ten play, dumping 24 fourth-quarter points on Indiana to grab a 52-26 win.

Connor Cook had a monster afternoon, completing 30 passes for 398 yards and four touchdowns as the Spartans racked up 540 total yards against a typically woeful Hoosier defense.

It was a back-and-forth game for three quarters, with only a pair of missed extra points by Indiana kicker Griffin Oakes allowing Michigan State to hold a 28-26 lead with just one quarter to play. Cook threw touchdown passes to R.J. Shelton, Aaron Burbridge and Josiah Price, while Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw a trio of touchdown passes and running back Jordan Howard had a touchdown run in his first game back after an injury-induced layoff.

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

But after Oakes missed a potential go-ahead field goal late in the third quarter and Michael Geiger hit a field goal early in the fourth, the flood gates opened late for the Spartans. In the game's final five minutes, Cook hit Shelton for a second scoring hook-up between the two, and LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes each added a touchdown rush to turn things into an absolute blowout.

It ended up being a fine offensive day for the Hoosiers, too, with Sudfeld throwing for 308 yards and three touchdowns. But, as has too often been the case, a good offensive day for Indiana was overshadowed by a poor defensive one. The Hoosiers have lost all four conference games they've played, a four-game losing streak after starting the season 4-0.

Michigan State, meanwhile, improved to 8-0 with the victory and remain in prime position for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Perhaps a 26-point win over Indiana isn't a big resume-booster. But the knock on the Spartans has been their inability to forcefully dispatch of inferior opponents. And while this game was as close as two points in the fourth quarter, the final result ought to meet the blowout criteria many observers have been looking for.

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.