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 Gophers punter Peter Mortell again

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 11, 2013 - 12:11 PM

Gophers punter Peter Mortell earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week Monday, after a big second half in Saturday's 24-10 victory over Penn State.

The Gophers didn't punt in the first half, and Mortell was a big reason they shut down Penn State in a scoreless second half. The redshirt sophomore from Green Bay, Wis., had punts that pinned the Nittany Lions at the 1-, 2- and 12-yard line. He averaged 46 yards on his four punts, including a career-best 62-yarder.

For the season, Mortell is averaging 42.8 yards per punt, which is tied for second best in the Big Ten.

Also, the Gophers announced that the game time for their Nov. 23 tussle with Wisconsin will be set after the Big Ten games next Saturday. The Gophers and Badgers will kick off at TCF Bank Stadium at either 11 a.m., or 2:30 p.m. It all depends on TV, of course.

Gophers No. 25 in coaches poll, just fall short in AP rankings

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 10, 2013 - 3:44 PM

After winning their fourth consecutive Big Ten game Saturday, the Gophers moved into the Top 25 of the USA Today Coaches' Poll on Sunday, at No. 25.

The Gophers didn't crack the AP Top 25, receiving 60 voting points to sit at No. 27 on that list behind No. 26 Ole Miss (68 points) and No. 25 Georgia (78 points).

It's the first time the Gophers have been ranked since they were No. 20 in both polls on Oct. 26, 2008.

The Gophers have a bye next week before playing host to Wisconsin on Nov. 23. The Badgers are ranked No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the Coaches' Poll.

"I told [the players] in the team meeting today, that, 'Hey, we enjoyed [beating Penn State] yesterday, but that’s yesterday. So that’s over with, and today you need to have a great day. ... Take it one day at a time. ... And don’t forget where you came from.'"

The Gophers (8-2, 4-2 in the Big Ten) have reached the eight-win mark for the first time since they went 10-3 in 2003.

"We’re 8-2, but our expectations are a heck of a lot more than that," Kill said.

Nelson and Mortell earn Big Ten weekly honors

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 4, 2013 - 11:18 AM

Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson and punter Peter Mortell were named Big Ten Players of the Week on Monday for their performances in Saturday's 42-39 victory at Indiana.

Nelson was named Co-Offensive Player of the Week, along with Penn State running back Bill Belton. Nelson had career highs for passing yards (298), completions (16) and touchdowns (four). He returned from a hip pointer injury to hit Maxx Williams for the go-ahead, 50-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

Nelson is the first Gopher to earn Big Ten offensive player of the week honors since Adam Weber on Nov. 1, 2009.

Mortell averaged 43 yards on his five punts, placing two inside the 20-yard line.

Monday update: Hawthorne honored; Penn State kickoff time set

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: October 28, 2013 - 10:37 AM

Gophers kicker Chris Hawthorne was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week today after going 2-for-2 on field goal attempts and 4-for-4 on extra points in Saturday's 34-23 victory over Nebraska.

Also, the Gophers announced that their Nov. 9 game against Penn State will start at 11 a.m., and it'll be televised on ESPN2.

Leidner named Big Ten Freshman of the Week

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 23, 2013 - 10:05 AM

Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week today after rushing for four touchdowns and 151 yards against Iowa.

Leidner also completed five of 12 passes for 71 yards in a victory over San Jose State.

The last Gopher to be named Freshman of the Week was Philip Nelson, on Oct. 29, 2012. Nelson, now a sophomore, missed Saturday's game with a strained right hamstring. Leidner, a redshirt freshman, was making his first career start.

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