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.

Gophers to put Little Brown Jug on display for public this week at TCF Bank Stadium

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: September 30, 2014 - 2:57 PM

The Gophers announced Tuesday that the Little Brown Jug will be on display for the general public on Wednesday and Thursday nights, from 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m., at TCF Bank Stadium.

The Jug will be in the T. Denny Sanford Hall of Fame, through the stadium's Benton County entrance. The Gophers encourage fans to park in the Maroon lot, adjacent to the stadium.

The Gophers reclaimed the 111-year-old rivalry trophy with Saturday's 30-14 win at Michigan. It was Minnesota's first win over Michigan since 2005 and just the second since 1986.

Gophers next three football games will start at 11 a.m., starting Oct. 11 against Northwestern

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers on TV Updated: September 29, 2014 - 10:11 AM

Five games into the season, the Gophers have yet to face an 11 a.m., kickoff, but that is about to change. Their next three games -- against Northwestern, Purdue and Illinois -- will all start at 11 a.m.

The Purdue and Illinois game times had been set, and the Northwestern game time was announced Monday. So Minnesota's next game is against Northwestern at TCF Bank Stadium on Oct. 11, at 11 a.m., televised by Big Ten Network.

Game times for the season's final four games have not been set.

Kill praises Leidner's performance from Michigan game

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher quarterbacks Updated: September 28, 2014 - 4:05 PM

After watching video of Saturday’s win at Michigan, Gophers coach Jerry Kill was particularly impressed with quarterback Mitch Leidner.

“Probably the key to the game was, we did good things throwing the football,” Kill said Sunday. “Actually, Mitch was on target on every throw he made. Mitch got some pressure but he stood in there and threw it, didn’t turn the ball over.”

Leidner completed 14 of 22 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. The redshirt sophomore had missed the previous game with a knee and toe injury after throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble in the loss at TCU.

The coaches thought Leidner relaxed and had fun at Michigan after pressing too hard in the season’s first three games.

“I know Mitch has his critics, but they still don’t understand the kid is young,” Kill said. “And he also played well in the Big House last year. So I think it was a really good game for him. He gained confidence.”

Halftime blog: Gophers lead 10-7 and are undefeated when leading at halftime under Jerry Kill

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers game day Updated: September 27, 2014 - 4:01 PM

ANN ARBOR, MICH. -- The Gophers lead Michigan 10-7 at halftime. Some quick notes:

* Under Jerry Kill, the Gophers are 17-0 when leading at halftime, 0-22 when trailing at halftime and 3-0 when tied at halftime. That’s why that 99-yard drive, at the end of the half, capped by Ryan Santoso’s 24-yard field goal was so big.

* Mitch Leidner started at quarterback, and Maxx Williams entered during the first series at tight end. Leidner is 10-for-16 for 115 yards. Williams has one reception for 10 yards.

Leidner started slow, as the Gophers had to punt on their first four drives. But after Michigan scored, Leidner led the Gophers on a 72-yard TD drive. He was 4-for-5 on the drive for 61 yards. He finished it with a 10-yard TD run on a naked bootleg.

* David Cobb is running like a man possessed against one of the best run defenses in the Big Ten. He 19 carries for 111 yards.

* Senior cornerback Derrick Wells suffered a left hamstring injury and is likely done for the game. But the Gophers like their depth at cornerback, with Jalen Myrick and Briean Boddy-Calhoun playing well.

* Michigan started Shane Morris at quarterback over Devin Gardner. Morris is 6-for-10 for 41 yards.

Leidner and Williams to start against Wolverines

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers game day Updated: September 27, 2014 - 2:23 PM

ANN ARBOR, MICH. – Mitch Leidner and Maxx Williams are both ready to play against Michigan today, which could be a big boost for the Gophers.

Leidner missed last week's game with a knee and toe injury, and Williams was out with a calf injury.

The weather here is perfect, with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m, on ABC.

I’m here with Chip Scoggins and our deputy sports editor, Chris Carr. We started this day with an outstanding breakfast at Zingerman’s and then spent some time walking through one of the tailgate lots across the street from Michigan Stadium.

That tailgate lot is also the university golf course. People were having a blast. Met some diehard Gophers fans, too.

Here’s my preview story, here's a story on Berkley Edwards' return to Michigan, here’s Chip’s column on schedule conspiracy theories, and here’s my prediction.

Pace Carr is running our Live Blog today, so be sure to check that out. It’s a great way to follow along with the game.

Follow us on Twitter: @JoeCStrib @ChipScoggins and @PaceCarr

Uni watch: The Gophers are wearing their maroon helmets, white jerseys and maroon pants.

Update: The Michigan Stadium PA announced Shane Morris as the starting QB, and that drew a loud ovation from the fans.

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