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.

Notes from the Big Ten Championship Game in Indy

Posted by: Joe Christensen under The Big 10, NCAA: football Updated: December 6, 2013 - 5:24 PM

INDIANAPOLIS --  It’s snowing here on the eve of the Big Ten Championship Game, but it’ll be perfectly comfortable inside Lucas Oil Stadium, when No. 2 Ohio State faces No. 11 Michigan State.

Indianapolis is about a three-hour drive from Columbus, and it's a little more than four hours from East Lansing. I bumped into a bunch of fans for each school as I was checking into my hotel, so it should be interesting to see what the crowd is like inside the 67,455-seat stadium.

“We’re anticipating 50/50, but I’m hoping a stronger Buckeye crowd will show up, like I’m sure [the Spartans] do,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “Can’t control that. But I think it’s going to be a great environment. Really, really excited for it.

HALL WON’T START

Meyer said senior offensive guard Marcus Hall won’t start Saturday after getting ejected from last week’s Michigan game and then throwing a tantrum before giving fans the double-bird salute on his way into the tunnel.

“Very, very disappointed in his actions,” Meyer said. “He paid the penalty for the fight, which is he missed three quarters in a rivalry game. It’s not Marcus. But just really disappointed in his actions after the fight.”

Hall is 6-5, 315 pounds, and his replacement -- redshirt freshman Pat Elfein -- is 6-3, 295.

"I love Pat Elfein," Meyer said. "He's going to have a great career here. A lot of confidence in him."

PRACTICING FULL-TILT

It’s unusual for teams to go full-contact in practice, especially at this stage of the season, but that’s what Michigan State did to get ready for Ohio State.

“I think you’re trying to put yourself in as many game-like situations – safe, not getting injured, so you can simulate as close to what you’re going to see on Saturday,” Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. “I think we pushed the envelope there a little bit to try to do that.

“I think our players need to understand, ‘Hey, it’s not touch out there, it’s full-contact. We have to play. There’s no question in my mind that Braxton Miller is the most physical quarterback that we have played this year, in terms of … taking hits and running with power as a quarterback.”

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