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.

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Kiante Hardin commits to Gophers

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher recruiting Updated: October 14, 2014 - 5:21 PM

The Gophers landed another recruiting commitment Tuesday, this time from the high school where Jerry Kill made his head coaching debut.

Kiante Hardin, a speedy 5-10, 164-pound cornerback from Webb City (Mo.) High School, announced he was heading to Minnesota on Twitter, giving the Gophers 16 commitments for the 2015 class.

Kill coached at Webb City in 1988 and 1989, going 25-1 with one state title.

Hardin, a consensus three-star recruit, also had reported offers from Army, Bowling Green and Northern Iowa, among others.

Gophers get commitment from Louisiana cornerback Alonzo Craighton

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher recruiting Updated: October 13, 2014 - 1:39 PM

The secondary is a major priority for the Gophers with their 2015 recruiting class, and they added a Louisiana defensive back to the mix Monday.

Alonzo Craighton, a 6-1, 185-pound cornerback from Geismar (La.) Dutchtown High School, announced his commitment to Minnesota on Twitter.

Craighton is a consensus three-star recruit, who also had offers from Louisiana Tech and Memphis. He is the Gophers' 15th commitment for 2015, and the fourth defensive back, joining Ray Buford (Southfield, Mich.) Jacob Huff (Bolingbrook, Ill.), Antonio Shenault (Roselle, Ill.).

The Gophers could add two or three more defensive backs to this class, knowing they need to replace current seniors Cedric Thompson, Derrick Wells, Grayson Levine and Marcus Jones.

Big Ten honors Wilson, Myrick with co-player of week honors

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: October 13, 2014 - 9:33 AM

The Big Ten honored two Gophers football players with co-player of the week honors Monday.

Linebacker Damien Wilson was named the conference's co-defensive player of the week, along with Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan. Wilson made a career-high 15 tackles in Saturday's win over Northwestern and leads the Big Ten with 11.0 tackles per game.

Jalen Myrick was named co-special teams player of the week, along with Michigan kicker Matt Wile. Myrick's 100-yard kick return touchdown broke a 17-17, fourth-quarter tie.

The Gophers also announced that Maxx Williams was one of 33 tight ends named to the Mackey Award Preseason Watch List.

Gophers closer to cracking both Top 25 polls

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: October 12, 2014 - 1:31 PM

The Gophers still didn't crack the Top 25 Sunday in either of the major polls, despite being 5-1 with Big Ten wins over Michigan and Northwestern.

In the Coaches’ Poll, the Gophers climbed to No. 28, with 78 points.

USC is No. 25 (125 votes), followed by UCLA (116) and LSU (80). The Gophers received more votes than Wisconsin (34) and Iowa (15).

In the AP Poll, the Gophers climbed into a tie for No. 29 with Kentucky, at 36 votes.

Marshall is No. 25 (148 votes), followed by UCLA (110), LSU (67) and Duke (45).

Halftime analysis: Gophers lead Northwestern 14-10; a few takeaways

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers game day Updated: October 11, 2014 - 12:53 PM

Terrific game here at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers lead Northwestern 14-10 at the half. Both teams playing well. No turnovers so far. A few things to know:

* The Gophers are 18-0 under Jerry Kill when leading at halftime and 0-22 when trailing at halftime.

* Northwestern is 6-for-10 on third down, but the Gophers made a big stop on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, forcing a field goal right before the half.

* Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian is 14-of-18 for 103 yards. He had a badly bruised heel in last year's loss to Minnesota. Looks much better today.

* Mitch Leidner has his legs back, and that’s making a difference. Leidner had runs of 9 and 22 yards on the Gophers first touchdown drive. Northwestern needs to respect that, and it’s opening things for the rest of the offense.

* David Cobb remains a workhorse. He has 13 carries for 51 yards.

* Northwestern’s up-tempo offense put together a 16-play 71-yard touchdown drive, tying the score 7-7. During the drive, Michael Amaefula knocked the ball loose from QB Trevor Siemian and Cameron Botticelli appeared to recover, but the ball squirted away and Northwestern got it back.

* True freshman Connor Mayes replaced Joe Bjorklund at right guard, burning his redshirt.

* Derrick Wells, who was questionable with a hamstring injury, came in at nickel in the second quarter.

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