Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
In an effort to create a loud and electric atmosphere for Saturday's game against Syracuse, the Gophers' only night game at TCF Bank Stadium this year, Minnesota put more than 5,000 upper-bowl tickets on sale shortly after last Saturday's victory over Western Michigan.
Gopher fans apparently know a bargain -- the tickets were snapped up by Monday evening.
There are still tickets available to watch the Gophers try to improve to 4-0, but all in the better reserved sections, priced between $40-90. Assuming those tickets move by game time, it could give the Gophers their first sellout of the season.
And nobody is rooting for that more than Jerry Kill. The coach emphasized how much the fans at TCF Bank Stadium helped his team on Saturday -- and that's with a mediocre crowd that the university announced as 44,921 tickets sold, but looked like several thousand fewer, certainly a smaller crowd than one week earlier against New Hampshire.
In discussing the Gopher defense's stand on Western Michigan's final possession, Kill said, "To be honest, I think the crowd had something to do with it."
The Broncos, apparently having communication problems, were penalized five yards on first down for having five men in the backfield. After a sack and a short run, they faced third-and-18.
"The crowd was tremendous on third down," Kill said. "If we're on the road, that may be a little bit of a different story."
Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder's pass was broken up by Michael Carter on third down, and receiver Jaime Wilson was stopped short of the first-down marker on fourth down, cementing the Gophers' victory.
Carder "was trying to check (change) plays. I can't tell you how important it is when that stadium is loud and it's third down, how tough that is on the quarterback," Kill said. "Everybody's calling plays on the line of scrimmage right now. Communication to get 10 guys to do the right thing is not easy."
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