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.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Gophers' red-zone problems have lingered on Saturday.
Minnesota used its running game to drive 65 yards deep into Illinois territory late in the second quarter, but with first-and-goal from the Illini 5, could not reach the end zone. Two running plays and an incomplete pass forced Minnesota to kick a 20-yard field goal, and the game is tied 3-3 at halftime.
A victory in Memorial Stadium would be Minnesota's sixth of the season, making them eligible for a bowl game, but the Gophers will need to muster more offense to get there. Minnesota's first four drives produced only 62 total yards and four punts, against the Big Ten's most-scored-upon defense.
Fortunately for the Gophers, their defense has been almost as effective. Illinois went 89 yards on its first possession, but had its own red zone problems, failing twice to reach the end zone from the 1 yard line. Illinois kicked its own 20-yard field goal, but went scoreless the rest of the way, punting three times and fumbling once.
Donnell Kirkwood has 86 rushing yards at halftime, on 12 carries, but the Gophers have been outgained by Illinois, 170 yards to 145.
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