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.
Their team may be having a terrible season, but give Illinois fans credit -- they still show up for a pretty great tailgate.
Memorial Stadium is surrounded by parking lots, and they were teeming as I arrived today with fans grilling meat, playing games and enjoying a fantastic fall day. I wonder how many of them will bother entering the stadium, actually.
It's sunny and 70 degrees here as the Gophers' kickers and punters warm up on the field. Looks like the Gophers are wearing their gold pants for the first time on the road this year, with white jerseys. The Illini are in orange jerseys and white pants
Left tackle Ed Olson and safety Cedric Thompson, both listed as questionable with injuries this week, made the trip, though coach Jerry Kill said Olson at least will be limited. A.J. Barker and Derrick Engel are not on the travel roster, leaving the Gophers short two regular receivers. MarQueis Gray and Isaac Freuchte will start, but the Gophers, who can become eligible for a bowl game with a victory today, may be looking for contributions today from Victor Keise, Brandon Green and Andre McDonald, players who haven't made many catches this season.
It's windy in Champaign, where the Gophers have won three straight, and where Illinois, 2-7 and 0-5 this year, has lost five straight Big Ten games. The most recent was a 31-17 loss to Indiana, which sparked those Hoosiers-could-win-the-division stories. And don't all those stories look smart now, with the Hoosiers trailing Wisconsin 48-14.
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