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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Of streaks and that 1906 season

Posted by: Phil Miller under College football Updated: August 29, 2011 - 9:57 AM

     In an effort to reduce the traffic of angry (or puzzled) emails, I guess I had better clarify a sentence in my story this morning about Nebraska's entry into the Big Ten. In the fifth paragraph, it reads: "Nebraska has played Kansas in each of the past 105 seasons, the longest continuous streak in college football history -- and that's not even the rivalry that Husker fans regret leaving behind."
     One of the rules to good writing is not to confuse the reader, and in this case I obviously failed. Here's the explanation I should have included:
     Yes, the Wisconsin-Minnesota series is older, dating back to 1890, which is two years before Kansas first played Nebraska. The Badgers and Gophers own the most-played series in college football.
     But there was no game in 1906, the only year the series was not played. I wasn't around back then and don't know the reason, but I'll just guess that after being thumped by a cumulative score of 56-0 from 1902-04, the Badgers, even after eking out a 16-12 win in '05, weren't so eager to play the Gophers every year. (Yeah, I'm just sucking up to my readership now. Sue me.)
     That 1906 season was the same year that Kansas and Nebraska began a streak of playing every year that has continued, unbroken, right up to this season. So the Jayhawks and Cornhuskers have the longest continuous streak at the moment, by one year. But as the story noted, with Nebraska leaving the Big 12, that streak will end this fall. (Unless they meet in a bowl game, I suppose.) So next year, Minnesota-Wisconsin will become the longest continuous streak as well.
     It's a shame to see those traditions die, though I've seen little evidence that Nebraskans are particularly upset over the end of the series with Kansas. Just as I haven't heard anyone complain that the Gophers' regular season ends this year against Illinois, and not with a rivalry game for Paul Bunyan's Axe or Floyd of Rosedale. It's the first time since 1932 that Wisconsin or Iowa isn't the season finale. Times change, I guess. 

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