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

Gophers climb to No. 22 in AP, coaches' polls

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 23, 2014 - 1:11 PM

The Gophers climbed to No. 22 in both the AP Poll and Coaches Poll on Sunday, coming off their 28-24 win at Nebraska.

This is the first time this season that they've cracked the AP Top 25. They were No. 24 in the Coaches Poll before their loss at Illinois on Oct. 25.

The Gophers (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) have held down the No. 25 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings the past two weeks. Those rankings come out on Tuesdays.

The Gophers will play at Wisconsin (No. 14 both polls) on Saturday to determine the Big Ten West title.

Kill thinks Doak Walker Award snub will add to Cobb's motivation

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 19, 2014 - 7:26 PM

David Cobb ranks seventh in the nation in rushing with 135 yards per game, but he didn’t make the list of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation’s top running back.

The list included three other Big Ten backs – Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman – along with Miami’s Duke Johnson, Georgia Southern’s Matt Breida, Marshall’s Devon Johnson, Auburn’s Cameron Artis-Payne, USC’s Javorius Allen, and Boise State’s Jay Ajayi.

“I will tell you, that will highly motivate that young man,” Gophers coach Jerry Kill said of Cobb. “He’s played good, and he’ll get rewarded. He just needs to keep playing hard and playing well.”

Cobb will have a chance to match up against Abdullah and Gordon the next two weeks.

“It’s one of those moments that you wait for and you dream for, going against Abdullah and Gordon, two great backs that deserve to be on the list,” Cobb said.

Gophers remain at No. 25 in College Football Playoff rankings, despite loss to Ohio State

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 18, 2014 - 7:32 PM

A seven-point loss to Ohio State did not cost the Gophers their spot in the College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings.

For the second consecutive week, the Gophers were at No. 25, when the rankings were released Tuesday night. Once again, this came despite being unranked in the top 25 of the AP and Coaches polls.

The Gophers (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten) lost 31-24 to now-No. 6 Ohio State last Saturday but can still win the Big Ten West if they can pull off wins at No. 23 Nebraska, and at No. 16 Wisconsin.

The Buckeyes (9-1, 6-0) jumped two spots after their win at Minnesota, and now trail No. 1 Alabama, No. 2. Oregon, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Mississippi State and No. 5 TCU.

Maxx Williams named a Mackey Award semifinalist; Gophers/Wisconsin kickoff set for 2:30

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 17, 2014 - 11:35 AM

Gophers tight end Maxx Williams on Monday was named one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, which given annually to the nation's top tight end.

Williams, a third-year sophomore from Waconia, has 25 receptions and leads all Big Ten tight ends in receiving yards (373) and receiving touchdowns (seven). He has accounted for 27.7 of all the Gophers' receiving yards.

The other seven semifinalists are E.J. Bibbs (Iowa State), Evan Engram (Ole Miss), Ben Koyack (Notre Dame), Jimmay Mundine (Kansas), Nick O'Leary (Florida State), Jean Sifrin (U Mass) and Clive Walford (Miami).

Former Gophers tight end Matt Spaeth won the Mackey Award in 2006. This year's finalists will be announced Nov. 24, with the trophy presented Dec. 11.

Game time set

The game time for the Gophers' game at Wisconsin on Nov. 29 has been set for 2:30 p.m. That will snap a string of six consecutive 11 a.m., games for Minnesota, including this Saturday's game at Nebraska.

Gophers debut in the College Football Playoff rankings, at No. 25

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 11, 2014 - 9:28 PM

The Gophers made their first appearance in the College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday night, at No. 25.

This is a little surprising, considering the Gophers (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) aren't in the Top 25 of the Coaches Poll or AP Poll this week. Still, it's a nice feather in their caps, and it's good for the other teams on their schedule.

TCU, for example, is sitting at No. 4 now with a resume that includes a 30-7 win over the Gophers on Sept. 6. The Gophers three remaining games are against No. 8 Ohio State, No. 16 Nebraska and No. 20 Wisconsin.

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