Big Ten

Urban Meyer is the anti-Bret Bielema: 'I don't know anyone else's schedule. I don't care.'

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Urban Meyer is the anti-Bret Bielema: 'I don't know anyone else's schedule. I don't care.'

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema — the former head coach at Wisconsin — made headlines last week when he ripped Ohio State's strength of schedule.

It's the classic point being made by an SEC head coach, saying his team is perhaps better or more deserving of inclusion in the College Football Playoff than those from other conferences because the SEC conference schedule is so difficult. And the SEC conference schedule is always very difficult, no argument there.

But Ohio State, the No. 1 team in the country and odds-on favorite to win a second straight national championship, proved itself plenty last season with three straight postseason wins over Wisconsin, Alabama (the SEC champ) and Oregon. This season, the regular-season schedule is certainly not the nation's strongest, but if the Buckeyes reach the postseason, they'll be sure to be tested. Plus, there is a regular-season matchup with current No. 4 Michigan State coming in November. That's a pretty tough game.

Bielema was served his humble pie Saturday, as his Razorbacks lost to Toledo, showing that strength of schedule doesn't mean much when you can't win games against the beatable opponents. And the Big Ten got one heck of a boost when aforementioned Michigan State beat Oregon in a clash of top-10 teams. That has the conference's perception on the rise.

[MORE BIG TEN: Big Ten Power Rankings: Spartans score season's most impressive win]

So asked Monday about the outside perception of the Big Ten, Meyer took the opposite route of Bielema, while also alluding to the Arkansas coach's comments.

"I don't have any idea. I don't know where people have time to do all that. I don't know anyone else's schedule. I don't care," Meyer said during his weekly press conference. "We've got enough issues. Yeah, I've been asked that question, 'Did you hear what this guy said?' How did they say that? I don't know.

"This time a year ago, we were a really bad team. And we got better. Probably because our focus was on getting better and better and better. I don't ever want to hear that through this (building). If I ever hear one of our coaches talk about another conference, that's a problem."

So there you have it. Urban Meyer is the anti-Bret Bielema, at least in this case.

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.