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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Posts about Gophers awards and honors

Big Ten honors Thompson, Santoso as players of week

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: October 20, 2014 - 9:31 AM

Gophers safety Cedric Thompson was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, after making two key interceptions in Saturday’s 39-38 victory over Purdue. Thompson returned Austin Appleby’s first pass to the 2-yard line, setting up a quick touchdown. And the second interception sealed the win.

Gophers freshman Ryan Santoso was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the week after hitting two field goals, including the 52-yard game-winner.

The honors came one week after the Big Ten named Gophers linebacker Damien Wilson co-defensive player of the week, and kick returner Jalen Myrick co-special teams player of the week.

Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys was thrilled with Thompson’s performance Saturday.

“It couldn’t happen to a better kid -- the time and effort he’s put in, not only to be a better player, but to be a leader since Brock [Vereen] left,” Claeys said. “You know, the counseling and visiting with kids, what he’s done, and to see that happen to him just makes you feel good.

“The old thing is that if you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. I definitely think that was part of his reward, I really do, for everything he’s put in and done for the kids. That’s what football’s all about.”

For those who haven’t read Thompson’s remarkable story, here it is.

Gophers rank No. 24 in Coaches Poll, but haven't cracked AP Top 25

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: October 19, 2014 - 1:41 PM

The Gophers haven't cracked the AP Top 25 since 2008, and they're still waiting, after receiving enough votes Sunday to rank No. 28.

But the Gophers did move into the Top 25 in the Coaches Poll, coming in at No. 24. They were ranked No. 23 in the Coaches Poll last Nov. 17, when they were 8-2, before losing to Wisconsin.

They are 6-1 now and coming off a comeback victory over Purdue. They'll be favored to win again next week at Illinois.

Big Ten honors Wilson, Myrick with co-player of week honors

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: October 13, 2014 - 9:33 AM

The Big Ten honored two Gophers football players with co-player of the week honors Monday.

Linebacker Damien Wilson was named the conference's co-defensive player of the week, along with Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan. Wilson made a career-high 15 tackles in Saturday's win over Northwestern and leads the Big Ten with 11.0 tackles per game.

Jalen Myrick was named co-special teams player of the week, along with Michigan kicker Matt Wile. Myrick's 100-yard kick return touchdown broke a 17-17, fourth-quarter tie.

The Gophers also announced that Maxx Williams was one of 33 tight ends named to the Mackey Award Preseason Watch List.

Gophers closer to cracking both Top 25 polls

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: October 12, 2014 - 1:31 PM

The Gophers still didn't crack the Top 25 Sunday in either of the major polls, despite being 5-1 with Big Ten wins over Michigan and Northwestern.

In the Coaches’ Poll, the Gophers climbed to No. 28, with 78 points.

USC is No. 25 (125 votes), followed by UCLA (116) and LSU (80). The Gophers received more votes than Wisconsin (34) and Iowa (15).

In the AP Poll, the Gophers climbed into a tie for No. 29 with Kentucky, at 36 votes.

Marshall is No. 25 (148 votes), followed by UCLA (110), LSU (67) and Duke (45).

Gophers to put Little Brown Jug on display for public this week at TCF Bank Stadium

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 30, 2014 - 2:57 PM

The Gophers announced Tuesday that the Little Brown Jug will be on display for the general public on Wednesday and Thursday nights, from 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m., at TCF Bank Stadium.

The Jug will be in the T. Denny Sanford Hall of Fame, through the stadium's Benton County entrance. The Gophers encourage fans to park in the Maroon lot, adjacent to the stadium.

The Gophers reclaimed the 111-year-old rivalry trophy with Saturday's 30-14 win at Michigan. It was Minnesota's first win over Michigan since 2005 and just the second since 1986.

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