Big Ten

Spartans survive late Purdue comeback to stay undefeated


Spartans survive late Purdue comeback to stay undefeated

A three-point win over Purdue isn't usually a sign of one of the nation's best teams.

No. 2 Michigan State could see a significant tumble in the rankings this week after clinging to life against Purdue, which made a late comeback but came up just short in a 24-21 Spartan win.

Michigan State led, 21-0, at the half and remained ahead by three touchdowns deep into the third quarter.

But Purdue roared back as the game wore on. David Blough pitched a touchdown pass with five and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter, and Markell Jones' 68-yard touchdown run made things real interesting not even a minute into the fourth.

The Spartans responded with a field goal to go up 10 with a little under 10 minutes to play, but the Boilermakers answered that with a seven-play, 79-yard touchdown drive, capped by another TD run by Jones.

[MORE BIG TEN: Northwestern moves to 5-0 with dominant win over Gophers]

Purdue got the ball back with a little less than three minutes to play, but a 10-play drive ended on a turnover on downs when a Blough jump ball was batted down.

Michigan State has looked shaky since a huge Week 2 win over Oregon. The Spartans' defense, which has been terrific in recent seasons, has failed to put a lid on its opponents, injuries and inexperience causing significant problems.

But the offense had its fair share of woes, too, Saturday, with Connor Cook — who's supposed to be among the nation's top quarterbacks — completing just 13 passes for 139 yards. The Spartans' rushing attack performed well, with LJ Scott leading the way with 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Michigan State rushed for a team total of 267 yards.

Purdue had three turnovers, which surely could have made the difference in the game.

Judging by the comments on social media, Michigan State likely won't hang on to its No. 2 ranking when the latest AP poll comes out Sunday. Still, the Spartans are a perfect 5-0.

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.