Big Ten

Wisconsin sinks the boat, beats Western Michigan for Cotton Bowl win

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Wisconsin sinks the boat, beats Western Michigan for Cotton Bowl win

Those boat-rowers at Western Michigan had themselves a great season, undefeated as the MAC champions.

But they didn't see a team anything like Wisconsin.

The Badgers proved their superiority Monday afternoon in the Cotton Bowl, executing their game plan to perfection in a 24-16 win over the Broncos.

The Badgers were practically perfect in this one, especially on the offensive side of the ball. They scored on four of their seven possessions (that's not counting an eighth that ended in victory formation at the end of the game) and got a fantastic performance from the duo of quarterback Bart Houston and tight end Troy Fumagalli. Houston completed 11 of his 12 passing attempts for 159 yards. Fumagalli came up with some terrific plays, including a diving one-handed grab, a sensational catch in the end zone for a touchdown and a wide-open haul on the final possession to convert on third down. Coincidentally, Houston's lone incompletion was a ball Fumagalli dropped in the end zone. The tight end finished with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Of course, that Wisconsin running game was in tip-top form, too. Corey Clement rushed for 42 yards on the game's opening drive, which he capped with a touchdown run through a hole so big you could've rowed a boat right through it. The Badgers' blocking was sensational all game long. On the second drive, Clement and Dare Ogunbowale made multiple plays for 20-plus-yard pickups, including Ogunbowale's 20-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.

Western Michigan managed to punch back, getting a touchdown in the second quarter on a short run by quarterback Zach Terrell, but Wisconsin added a field goal right before the half to take a 17-7 lead to the break.

The Broncos narrowed the gap to a field goal with a third-quarter kick, but T.J. Edwards intercepted Terrell the next time Western Michigan got the ball — just Terrell's fourth interception of the season — setting up Wisconsin's offense at the 12-yard line. Three plays later, Alex Hornibrook hit Fumagalli for the touchdown.

Western Michigan wasn't done and got a crazy touchdown in the fourth quarter, Corey Davis — one of the top receivers in the nation — hauled in a pass Terrell lofted off his back foot, coming down with it in the end zone for a touchdown to make it 24-16. But the Broncos failed on their onside-kick try, and the Badgers held on for the win.

The Wisconsin defense held Western Michigan to just 280 total yards. Meanwhile, the Badgers racked up 362 yards of offense.

For Paul Chryst, it made for two bowl wins in two seasons as the Wisconsin head coach. The Badgers earned their 11th victory of the season and got the program's first win in a major bowl game since the 2000 Rose Bowl.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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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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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.