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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Loss drops Gophers from AP Top 25; Nebraska ranks ahead of them

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: November 30, 2014 - 1:41 PM

The Gophers fell from the AP Top 25 on Sunday and found themselves sitting behind No. 25 Nebraska, a team they defeated just eight days ago.

The Gophers were No. 22 in last week's AP Poll but lost 34-24 to Wisconsin. That win helped the Badgers climb three spots to No. 11.

Minnesota fell three spots to No. 25 in the Coaches Poll. Nebraska, which fired coach Bo Pelini on Sunday, is at No. 23 in the Coaches Poll.

The Gophers finished the regular season at 8-4, 5-3 in the Big Ten. Three of their losses came to teams currently ranked in the top 11 -- TCU (No. 4), Ohio State (No. 6) and Wisconsin (No. 11). Their other loss was to an Illinois team that defeated Northwestern on Saturday to become bowl eligible.

Nebraska came back to defeat Iowa on Friday, leaving the Cornhuskers 9-3, 5-3 in the Big Ten. Nebraska's three losses were to Michigan State (No. 7), Wisconsin and the Gophers.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with bowl selections between the Gophers and Cornhuskers. Minnesota sits above Nebraska in the Big Ten West standings -- with the head-to-head win -- but the Cornhuskers have the better overall record.

Halftime analysis: Cobb's return gives Gophers a huge boost; they lead 17-13

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers game day Updated: November 29, 2014 - 4:24 PM

MADISON, WIS. -- The Gophers went to the locker room with a 17-13 lead at halftime. Some quick takeaways:

* The Gophers are 20-0 under Jerry Kill when leading at halftime. They led this one 17-3 lead, but Wisconsin scored the next 10 points to take momentum into the second half. The Badgers will get the ball right away. Keep in mind, Wisconsin trailed Nebraska 17-3 and wound up winning 59-24.

* All week long, it sounded like David Cobb wouldn’t play after straining his left hamstring against Nebraska. But there he was going through warm-ups and getting the start at tailback. And there he was, breaking a tackle and bursting 40 yards for a touchdown, stretching Minnesota’s lead to 14-3.

With that 40-yard run, Cobb broke Laurence Maroney’s single-season school rushing record (1,464) yards. Cobb has 16 carries for 95 yards, giving him 1,525 for the season.

* Melvin Gordon needed just one yard to break Ron Dayne’s single-season Big Ten rushing record (2,109 yards). Gordon has 14 carries for 55 yards, giving him 2,164 for the season.

* Gophers safety Cedric Thompson made five tackles on Wisconsin’s first drive. He tripped up Melvin Gordon with a touchdown-saving tackle at the 6-yard line, and the Gophers held the Badgers to a field goal on that drive.

* The Gophers entered with a plus-11 turnover margin (compared to minus-two for the Badgers), and this came into play immediately. Kenzel Doe fumbled on a punt return, when Jack Lynn delivered a hit, and Eric Murray fell on it at Wisconsin’s 13-yard line. Two plays later, Mitch Leidner scampered for a 10-yard touchdown run.

Leidner has completed 2 of 8 passes for 28 yards.

* Gophers left tackle Josh Campion limped off late in the first half, with a left knee injury. Ben Lauer replaced him.

Pregame: Cobb tests hamstring, appears ready to play

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers game day Updated: November 29, 2014 - 2:16 PM

MADISON, WIS. -- Gophers running back David Cobb went through warm-ups, looking like he fully expects to play against Wisconsin.

Cobb, who strained his left hamstring last week, came out before warm-ups and loosened up with assistant strength and conditioning coach Chad Pearson. Cobb did a lot of exercises to test the hamstring, including some running, and slapped hands with the coach before returning to the locker room.

Cobb came out for warm-ups and did everything he usually does. Granted, they are not running full speed, but it's an encouraging sign for the Gophers.

Cobb could still be limited, of course. But having him available would be an obvious boost for the Gophers.

It's a good day weather-wise. Should be about 40 degrees for kickoff. The second half will be played in darkness.

Personal note: This is my first time in the Camp Randall Stadium press box since 1994, when I was here as a beat reporter for the Minnesota Daily.

Follow us on Twitter: @JoeCStrib @ChipScoggins

Cobb not listed on Gophers depth chart for Wisconsin game; status listed as questionable

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers injuries Updated: November 27, 2014 - 5:01 PM

The Gophers listed David Cobb as questionable on their official injury report Thursday and kept him off of their depth chart at tailback heading into Saturday's game at Wisconsin.

Cobb strained his left hamstring in last week's win over Nebraska. On Wednesday, in coach Jerry Kill's last public comments of the week, he said he didn't expect Cobb to practice Thursday. Kill said Cobb was "big-time questionable" and made it clear Cobb would have to practice before the Gophers would test his hamstring in a game.

For the Wisconsin game, the Gophers list their starting tailback as "Donnell Kirkwood or Rodrick Williams or Berkley Edwards."

The Gophers also list WR Drew Wolitarsky (ankle) as out, S Antonio Johnson (knee) as questionable, S Daletavious McGhee (unspecified injury) as questionable and TE Brandon Lingen (unspecified injury) as questionable.

Gophers climb to No. 18 in latest College Football Playoff rankings

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: November 25, 2014 - 7:08 PM

Last week's win over Nebraska vaulted the Gophers seven spots, to No. 18 in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings, which the selection committee revealed Tuesday night.

Wisconsin defeated Iowa and moved up two spots to No. 14 in the latest CFP rankings. The Badgers (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) will face the Gophers (8-3, 5-2) on Saturday in Madison to determine the Big Ten West title.

Wisconsin's two losses this year are to LSU and Northwestern. The Gophers' losses are to TCU, Illinois and Ohio State.

TCU remained at No. 5, and Ohio State remained at No. 6 in the latest rankings. Michigan State climbed one spot to No. 10.

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