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.
UPDATE: Gophers coach Jerry Kill did not join his team on the sidelines for the second half. The university has not yet released any information about his whereabouts or condition.
The Gophers' offense has yet to penetrate more than three yards deep into Michigan State territory. Yet Minnesota has led most of the first half, and heads to halftime trailing by only six points, 13-7.
That's because the Gopher defense has intercepted Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell twice, including one for a defensive touchdown, and mostly bottled up the Spartans' offense.
Minnesota linbacker Aaron Hill grabbed one Maxwell pass at the Michigan State 33 and picked his way down the sideline for a touchdown, giving the Gophers a first-quarter lead that they held until the final 90 seconds of the half. Michigan State has nearly five times as much yardage as the Gophers -- it's 248-53 at the half -- yet was limited to a pair of Dan Conroy field goals until its final possession.
Maxwell finally connected with receiver Bennie Fowler for a 41-yard touchdown with 1:28 to play, but even that score was a fluke -- Maxwell's pass was tipped by intended receiver Tony LIppett, and bounced into the arms of Fowler, who ran the final 25 yards for the score. The play was originally rule out of bounds at the 2-yard line, but a video review overturned the call.
Minnesota has used two quarterbacks, giving senior MarQueis Gray a half-dozen snaps along with starter Philip Nelson, but neither quarterback has moved the ball. Nelson is 8-for-6 for 31 yards and two interceptions, while Gray's lone pass was knocked down. No Gopher has more than 13 yards on the ground, and Minnesota's rushing total is 22 yards at the half. Only once have the Gophers reached the Spartans' half of the field, on a drive that died at the 47.
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