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Suspensions, injury, QB decision and investigation have Rutgers in chaos for Week 1

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Suspensions, injury, QB decision and investigation have Rutgers in chaos for Week 1

Just about everything that can go wrong is going wrong for Rutgers heading into the season-opener against Norfolk State.

In addition to already-announced first-half suspensions for wide receiver and Leonte Carroo and quarterback Chris Laviano, defensive lineman Darius Hamilton — the Scarlet Knights’ best defensive player — will miss the opener due to injury.

And by the sound of head coach Kyle Flood’s comments during his Tuesday press conference, it sounds like Hamilton might miss some significant time.

“He's week-to-week right now,” Flood said. “I'm confident that we are going to see Darius Hamilton on the field on game day this year but it will be really hard for me to put a timetable on it.”

[MORE BIG TEN: Inexperience, injuries make Badgers O-line a question mark vs. Alabama]

Losing Hamilton is obviously a big blow, and a first half without Carroo, Laviano and three other players will also be detrimental at first. Thankfully for Rutgers, Norfolk State isn’t the kind of opponent where these losses make a huge difference, but it’s still not a positive thing.

There’s plenty more uncertainty surrounding the Knights, too.

Flood is in the middle of being investigated by the school after he sent an email to a university faculty member regarding the academic status of a player. There’s a rule against that sort of communication between coaches and faculty at Rutgers, and reports indicate that Flood could face significant punishment.

There was a question asked Tuesday as to whether he’d coach the team Saturday.

“I have no reason to believe I wouldn't be the person leading the football team on Saturday,” Flood answered. “My portion of the university process ended yesterday, and now until there's a resolution, I really need to be respectful of that process and I won't have further comment on that.”

[MORE BIG TEN: Bill Cubit hoping to inspire a much-needed rally for Illini]

And while that remains unresolved, so does the team’s quarterback situation. Hayden Rettig will get the start Saturday with Laviano suspended. The two were locked in a competition this preseason. Flood said it will be a halftime decision as to which QB leads the team once Laviano’s suspension ends, which isn’t the most ringing endorsement for Rettig and makes you wonder if Laviano would have started had he not been suspended.

Still, Rettig is the starting QB for Saturday’s game.

“Hayden Rettig is the starting quarterback,” Flood said. “We're going to evaluate the first half, and we'll make a decision at halftime as to how we're going to proceed.

“I really haven't looked past the first half of this game. We are going to evaluate the first half of this game and then make our decisions going forward based on that. To look beyond that I think would be very difficult.”

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.