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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Florida State's O'Leary gets Mackey Award, edging Maxx Williams

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: December 10, 2014 - 9:17 AM

Florida State senior Nick O'Leary on Wednesday was named this year's winner of the Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end.

Gophers sophomore Maxx Williams was one of three finalists for the award, along with Miami senior Clive Walford.

Williams, a first-team All-Big Ten selection, leads the Gophers in receptions (29), receiving yards (471) and receiving touchdowns (seven). O'Leary has 47 receptions for 614 yards and six touchdowns.

Kill, Hoffner and Jennison take home AFCA regional coach of the year honors

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: December 8, 2014 - 10:07 AM

Gophers coach Jerry Kill, Minnesota State Mankato coach Todd Hoffner and Macalester coach Tony Jennison all received regional coach of the year honors Monday from the American Football Coaches Association.

These awards are voted on by their peers -- in this case, other active members of the AFCA -- with five regional winners picked at each NCAA level.

Kill was named FBS Region 3 Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. He was the only repeat winner in that division. The other honorees: Region 1: David Cutcliffe, Duke; Region 2: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State; Region 4: Gary Patterson, TCU; Region 5: Jim McElwain, Colorado State University.

Hoffner was named Division II Region 5 Coach of the Year, and Jennison was named Division III Region 5 Coach of the Year.

Gophers land Citrus Bowl bid, their first New Year's Day bowl game since 1962

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers post season Updated: December 7, 2014 - 3:48 PM

The Gophers will play in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando against Missouri, the Star Tribune has confirmed.

It’s the first time the Gophers have drawn a New Year’s Day bowl game since they defeated UCLA in the 1962 Rose Bowl.

Missouri (10-3) won the SEC East but lost 42-13 to Alabama in Saturday's SEC title game. The Tigers also lost to Indiana in September.

The Gophers (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) appeared to catch a break Sunday, when Mississippi State jumped ahead of Michigan State in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

The Orange Bowl was under contract to take the highest ranked Big Ten or SEC team that didn’t make the four-team College Football Playoff. That would have been Michigan State based on last week’s rankings, but it wound up being Mississippi State.

If the Big Ten team had landed a team in the Orange Bowl, it wouldn’t have been able to send one to the Citrus Bowl.

Ohio State landed a berth in the four-team College Football Playoff. Michigan State got a bid to play Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. And with the Citrus Bowl back in play, the rest of the Big Ten benefited.

The Citrus Bowl was called the Capital One Bowl from 2003 to 2014. It actually dates to 1947, when it was known as the Tangerine Bowl before changing its name to the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Sunday shakeup re-opens possibility of Citrus Bowl and Outback Bowl for Gophers

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers post season Updated: December 7, 2014 - 2:44 PM

The Gophers could be back in play for the Citrus Bowl, with the Outback Bowl and Holiday Bowl seeming to be the other top possibilities, with their bowl announcement coming later this afternoon.

The announcement is coming at 5:30 p.m., though word could leak earlier. We'll post all the latest news here.

The College Football Playoff selection committee did the whole Big Ten a favor by moving Mississippi State ahead of Michigan State in the final rankings, even though both teams had a bye this week. The Gophers wound up No. 25 in the final rankings.

Because of that Mississippi State (not Michigan State) is heading to the Orange Bowl. If Michigan State had drawn that assignment, the Big Ten would not have been able to send a team to the Citrus Bowl.

But Michigan State will play Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. Ohio State is headed to the College Football Playoff as the No. 4 seed.

The Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1 in Orlando) will get next dibs followed by the Outback Bowl and the Holiday Bowl. Even if the Citrus Bowl would prefer Wisconsin or Nebraska, the Big Ten could step in and make them take the Gophers.

Nebraska played in the Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.) last year and the Capital One Bowl (in Orlando) two years ago. Wisconsin played in the Capital One Bowl last year and was in Orlando five straight years between 2005-2009.

In his latest projections for, Jerry Palm has the Gophers playing Missouri in the Citrus Bowl.

Gophers land commitment from JUCO safety, Charlie Rogers

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher recruiting Updated: December 3, 2014 - 11:22 AM

The Gophers continued stocking up on defensive back recruits Wednesday, when they landed a commitment from Iowa Western Community College safety Charlie Rogers.

Rogers is a consensus three-star recruit who also had a reported offers from Illinois, Utah State and Wyoming, among other schools. The Iowa City native has two years of college eligibility remaining and plans to enroll at the university next month, so he can take part in spring practice.

The Gophers will have holes in their secondary next year with Cedric Thompson, Derrick Wells, Grayson Levine and Marcus Jones all set to graduate.

They now have 17 commitments for 2015, including six defensive backs.

Rogers announced his commitment on Twitter:


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