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.
The Gophers will play in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando against Missouri, the Star Tribune has confirmed.
It’s the first time the Gophers have drawn a New Year’s Day bowl game since they defeated UCLA in the 1962 Rose Bowl.
Missouri (10-3) won the SEC East but lost 42-13 to Alabama in Saturday's SEC title game. The Tigers also lost to Indiana in September.
The Gophers (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) appeared to catch a break Sunday, when Mississippi State jumped ahead of Michigan State in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
The Orange Bowl was under contract to take the highest ranked Big Ten or SEC team that didn’t make the four-team College Football Playoff. That would have been Michigan State based on last week’s rankings, but it wound up being Mississippi State.
If the Big Ten team had landed a team in the Orange Bowl, it wouldn’t have been able to send one to the Citrus Bowl.
Ohio State landed a berth in the four-team College Football Playoff. Michigan State got a bid to play Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. And with the Citrus Bowl back in play, the rest of the Big Ten benefited.
The Citrus Bowl was called the Capital One Bowl from 2003 to 2014. It actually dates to 1947, when it was known as the Tangerine Bowl before changing its name to the Florida Citrus Bowl.
The Gophers could be back in play for the Citrus Bowl, with the Outback Bowl and Holiday Bowl seeming to be the other top possibilities, with their bowl announcement coming later this afternoon.
The announcement is coming at 5:30 p.m., though word could leak earlier. We'll post all the latest news here.
The College Football Playoff selection committee did the whole Big Ten a favor by moving Mississippi State ahead of Michigan State in the final rankings, even though both teams had a bye this week. The Gophers wound up No. 25 in the final rankings.
Because of that Mississippi State (not Michigan State) is heading to the Orange Bowl. If Michigan State had drawn that assignment, the Big Ten would not have been able to send a team to the Citrus Bowl.
But Michigan State will play Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. Ohio State is headed to the College Football Playoff as the No. 4 seed.
The Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1 in Orlando) will get next dibs followed by the Outback Bowl and the Holiday Bowl. Even if the Citrus Bowl would prefer Wisconsin or Nebraska, the Big Ten could step in and make them take the Gophers.
Nebraska played in the Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.) last year and the Capital One Bowl (in Orlando) two years ago. Wisconsin played in the Capital One Bowl last year and was in Orlando five straight years between 2005-2009.
In his latest projections for CBSSports.com, Jerry Palm has the Gophers playing Missouri in the Citrus Bowl.
The Gophers continued stocking up on defensive back recruits Wednesday, when they landed a commitment from Iowa Western Community College safety Charlie Rogers.
Rogers is a consensus three-star recruit who also had a reported offers from Illinois, Utah State and Wyoming, among other schools. The Iowa City native has two years of college eligibility remaining and plans to enroll at the university next month, so he can take part in spring practice.
The Gophers will have holes in their secondary next year with Cedric Thompson, Derrick Wells, Grayson Levine and Marcus Jones all set to graduate.
They now have 17 commitments for 2015, including six defensive backs.
Rogers announced his commitment on Twitter:
Jerry Kill was named Big Ten Coach of the Year on Tuesday after leading the Gophers to a 5-3 conference finish and pushing Wisconsin to a winner-take-all game for the West Division title.
In a preseason poll of Big Ten writers, by Cleveland.com, the Gophers were picked to finish fifth in the West. But they kept themselves in the conference title hunt with November wins over Iowa and Nebraska, before falling 34-24 last week at Wisconsin.
The media and coaches selected Kill as Big Ten Coach of the Year over Urban Meyer, who led the Buckeyes to an 8-0 Big Ten record and an East Division title despite losing quarterback Braxton Miller before the season, and then losing J.T. Barrett in last week’s win over Michigan.
The last time the Gophers had a Big Ten coach of the Year was in 1999, when Glen Mason led them to a 5-3 conference finish, including a win over No. 2 Penn State.
Kill is 25-25 in four seasons as the Gophers coach. In the Big Ten, his teams have gone 2-6, 2-6, 4-4 and 5-3.
The Gophers (8-4 overall) will learn their bowl destination on Sunday.
The Gophers gave David Cobb their Bronko Nagurski Award (team MVP) and honored his cousin, Damien Wilson, with the Carl Eller Award (top defensive player). Other awards from their annual banquet included:
Bruce Smith Award (top offensive player) – Cobb.
Bobby Bell Award (top special teams player) – Peter Mortell.
Tony Dungy Award (character and community service) – Luke McAvoy.
Butch Nash Award (competitive on field and in classroom) – Jon Christenson.
Paul Giel Award (unselfish and concern about the university) – Donnell Kirkwood.
Neil Fredenburg Award (courage and love of the game) – Mitch Leidner.
Gary Tinsley Underdog Award – Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
Defensive Freshman of the Year – Steven Richardson.
Offensive Freshman of the Year – Brandon Lingen.
Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year – Cody Poock.
Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year – Matt Leidner.
Defensive Back of the Year – Boddy-Calhoun
Linebacker of the Year – Wilson
Defensive Lineman of the Year – Cameron Botticelli
Tight End/Fullback of the Year -- Maxx Williams
Wide Receiver of the Year -- Isaac Fruechte
Bob McNamara Offensive Back of the Year -- Cobb
Offensive Linemen of the Year -- Zac Epping and Tommy Olson
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