Big Ten

Who's the quarterback? Buckeyes don't seem to know

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Who's the quarterback? Buckeyes don't seem to know

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer has a quarterback controversy on his hands. Still.

This was all supposed to be settled back in August. The nation was captivated by a preseason quarterback competition between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones. Barrett led Ohio State to an 11-1 regular-season record and finished fifth in Heisman voting. Jones led Ohio State to three postseason victories, culminating in the national championship.

It was a question with no wrong answer, or so it seemed.

Three games into the Buckeyes' title-defense season, Meyer doesn't know who the starter is. Sure, Jones started the first three games. But after a poor performance in Saturday's 20-13 win over Northern Illinois, he might not get the start in Week 4's matchup with Western Illinois. But he might.

[MORE BIG TEN: Defense keeps Buckeyes unbeaten, but offense struggles in win vs. NIU]

And that seems to be the crux of the problem. Meyer wants to play both guys, but the head coach admitted Saturday that there might be something to the suggestion that not firmly going with one guy has led to some struggles at the position.

"There might be some truth to that. Not that I'm going to call some armchair people and ask them what they think," Meyer joked Saturday. "But I do believe in game reps. And that's how players get better. And that's something that I'm going to spend a lot of time thinking about."

Neither Jones nor Barrett played well enough to earn a No. 1 job Saturday. Both quarterbacks and the Ohio State offense as a whole were out of sync, unable to do much of anything. As Meyer described it, the offense was "discombobulated."

Jones started but threw two interceptions in nine first-half passing attempts and was lifted in favor of Barrett. Barrett didn't play much better, completing 11 of 19 passing attempts for 97 yards. He had one brilliant moment on a second-quarter touchdown toss to Michael Thomas but also threw an interception that could have been costly in the third quarter had the Ohio State defense not responded immediately with an interception of its own.

The Buckeyes tallied just 136 passing yards on a miserable offensive day.

[MORE BIG TEN: Northwestern stays perfect with big non-conference win over Duke]

So when asked who will start for Ohio State, Meyer had no answer.

"Good question. And I don't know that right now. I haven't had time to think about it."

Perhaps Barrett should have earned the starting job from the get go. After all, he was one of the nation's best quarterbacks during a terrific 2014 regular season. But that hindsight is especially sharpened after a day when Jones struggled. Jones was fine in the season-opening win over Virginia Tech.

Was a decision made Saturday night? Jones, who jokes on his Twitter page about being Ohio State's third-string QB — a reference to what he did last season after both Braxton Miller and Barrett were injured — changed that Twitter profile bio to read: "3rd String QB @ The Ohio State University Oh Wait, 2nd String."

That made matters even less clear.

What is clear, though, is that having two quarterbacks doesn't seem to be working. The switching between Jones and Barrett might not be having an effect on the play of the offensive line or the receiving corps. But it seems to be having an effect on the quarterback position. And after two weeks of lackluster QB play, maybe it's time Meyer finally got around to picking a winner of this quarterback competition.

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.