Big Ten

Will the Big Ten get two teams in the Playoff? And should one of them be Michigan?


Will the Big Ten get two teams in the Playoff? And should one of them be Michigan?

The Big Ten is in a very tricky situation when it come to the College Football Playoff.

Yes, the conference has had a better go of it than any other this season, placing four teams in the top seven of the most recent rankings from the selection committee. That would figure to not just set things up for one of the league's teams to make the sport's final four but perhaps two.

Things get weird, though, when you realize that the Big Ten's two best teams — which squared off in a double-overtime epic Saturday afternoon in Columbus — are not playing for a conference championship next weekend in Indianapolis.

Ohio State is the clear No. 1 squad in the Big Ten. After defeating rival Michigan, it will keep its No. 2 spot in the Playoff rankings, and there doesn't seem to be much of anything that can knock it out of the Playoff bracket, mostly because the Buckeyes don't have to play another game between now and selection Sunday. Penn State won the head-to-head matchup, meaning the Nittany Lions are representing the Big Ten East Division in Indy.

So if Ohio State has a Playoff spot on lockdown — and the same can be said for No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Clemson, should those two teams win their respective conference title games next weekend — who gets that last Playoff berth? It figures to go to a Big Ten team, but which one?

The logical answer is whichever team wins the Big Ten title game: sixth-ranked Wisconsin or seventh-ranked Penn State. Whoever wins, they'll add another top-10 win to their resume, something far more important for the Badgers, who boast No. 16 (and soon to be lower) Nebraska as their best victory. The Lions, meanwhile, have a win over Ohio State. Getting a second top-10 win would all but certainly cement them into the Playoff.

The mystery becomes what the committee thinks between a potential one-loss, Pac-12 champion Washington team and whoever emerges from the Wisconsin-Penn State clash. Ohio State and Michigan have remained ranked ahead of Washington for weeks. But the Huskies could add their own top-10 win in the Pac-12 title game over Colorado. That would become a signature win at just the right time for Washington and perhaps enough to vault it into the final four.

But here's another question: What about Michigan?

The Wolverines lost Saturday in Columbus, and the thinking is that without an opportunity to play for a league title and their now two-loss record there's no way Jim Harbaugh's team could reach the Playoff. But if Ohio State is able to lock up a Playoff spot without a conference championship, will the thinking on conference title apply elsewhere? Michigan is a two-loss squad with a sparkling resume: wins over three top-10 teams in Wisconsin, Penn State and Colorado and a double-overtime loss to another top-10 team in Ohio State. Even whichever team wins the Big Ten title game won't have a resume like that. There looks to be a case made that the Wolverines would be more deserving of a Playoff spot than either the Badgers or Lions.

If the selection committee's appeared preference for the Big Ten holds true, it wouldn't be difficult to see two of the four Playoff teams hailing from the conference. But as for which one it will be, there's plenty left to be determined.

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.

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.