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.
Not since Oct. 2 have Gopher fans read these words: Minnesota has a lead.
DeLeon Eskridge ran for one touchdown, Tiree Eure caught an Adam Weber pass for another, and Eric Ellestad kicked a career-long 45-yard field goal just before halftime, giving the Gophers a 17-7 lead at the break. It snaps a five-game streak in which Minnesota never held a lead, and marks the first time since the season-opening win over Middle Tennessee State that it's held a lead of double digits.
A blustery wind is having an obvious effect on the game; all 24 points have been scored in the north end zone, with the wind at the offense's back. Minnesota also benefitted from the wind when an Illinois punt was knocked down by a gust, giving the Gophers the ball at the Illini 32 yard line and setting up their first score.
Minnesota has passed for exactly 100 yards and rushed for exactly 100 more, while Illinois, which had a drive short-circuited by an incorrect call by an official -- a fumbled pitch, which Mikel Leshourse caught on a bounce and appeared headed for a first down, was ruled an incomplete pass -- has only 149 yards at halftime.
MarQueis Gray has taken 10 snaps at quarterback, handing off once, throwing an incomplete pass, and rushing eight times for 40 yards. Weber is 11-of-18 for 100 yards with a touchdown.
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