Big Ten

Those two Northwestern football games announced for Fridays? They're now set for Saturdays

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USA TODAY

Those two Northwestern football games announced for Fridays? They're now set for Saturdays

The Big Ten's implementation of Friday-night football didn't go over so well when it was announced back in the fall, and now the league seems to have shrunk its Friday-night offerings for the 2017 season.

Back in November, the conference announced six new games to be played on Friday nights, these games in addition to the annual Heroes Game played between Iowa and Nebraska on the Friday after Thanksgiving. That number grew to seven when Illinois' non-conference game against South Florida was moved to a Friday night.

Two of those games wre set for later on in the season, in October, and both featured the Northwestern Wildcats, something that didn't please head coach Pat Fitzgerald, one of several voices opposed to the start of Friday-night football in the Big Ten.

Well, the conference sent out a composite schedule along with its 2017 season-preview information on Friday, and guess what? Those two October games featuring Northwestern are now Saturday games.

The Cats were slated to take on Maryland and Michigan State on Friday, Oct. 13, and Friday, Oct. 27, respectively. Now those games are set for Saturday, Oct. 14, and Saturday, Oct. 28, respectively. The team's schedule on Northwestern's website reflects those new dates.

Fitzgerald's argument against was certainly an understandable one. The Cats were saddled with two Friday-night games in a three-week span with no bye week in between, something no other Big Ten team had to deal with. Also, the differences in Northwestern's academic calendar make October a particularly important and difficult month for the football team each season.

Of course, there were plenty, Fitzgerald and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh included, who had more general problems with the league's foray into Friday-night games. The complaints centered around the conflicts with high school games, creating a competition for the attention of fans and, more importantly, prospective recruits. Detractors also cited clashes with academic schedules on campus involving student-athletes and other students.

Similarly, though, it was easy to understand why the Big Ten was making this move in the first place. The eyes of college football fans get pulled in a million different directions each fall Saturday. Why not schedule games on a weeknight with hardly any other competition? It puts the conference's schools and programs on a unique stage and shines a spotlight on those who don't often get the attention of programs like Michigan and Ohio State.

In the end, though, it seems the schedulers heard Fitzgerald's argument in moving Northwestern's two October games off Friday night.

That makes for a drastically different-looking first year of Friday-night football in the Big Ten, with just three Friday games not being played on holiday weekends and just one a matchup of two conference teams.

The Friday football schedule in the Big Ten for 2017 now looks like this:

Washington at Rutgers, Friday, Sept. 1
Utah State at Wisconsin, Friday, Sept. 1
Ohio at Purdue, Friday, Sept. 8
Illinois at South Florida, Sept. 15
Nebraska at Illinois, Friday, Sept. 29
Iowa at Nebraska, Friday, Nov. 24

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.