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The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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Gophers hope to salve wounds with bye

This weekend saw some of the most thrilling finishes in recent college football, and two of the best were in the Big Ten.

Unfortunately for Minnesota’s football team, a last second upset struck close to home at the Metrodome.

Wisconsin erased a 34-24 deficit with 3:27 seconds left in Saturday’s contest, eventually pulling ahead for good when Jonathan Casillas blocked a punt, which was recovered by the Badgers’ Ben Strickland for a touchdown, giving Wisconsin (6-1, 3-1) the 38-34 win.

“When I walked out to shake Barry’s (Alvarez) hand, we both said at the same time, ‘When you think you’ve seen it all,’ ” Minnesota coach Glen Mason said. “The only difference was that he was smiling and I wasn’t.”

Punting from his own 17-yard line with only 38 seconds left in the game, Gophers punter Justin Kucek mishandled the snap, recovered the ball and still tried to kick it.

The Gophers team was sympathetic toward Kucek after the game.

“It’s not (Kucek’s) fault,” running back Laurence Maroney said. “Things happen. You can’t stop things from happening. We just have to forget about it and focus on getting ready for Ohio State.”

The Gophers (5-2, 2-2) have a bye this weekend, but then host the Buckeyes at 11 a.m. Oct. 29 at the Metrodome, televised on ABC.

Michigan topples Big Ten unbeaten

Penn State is no longer undefeated.

Michigan put an end to the Nittany Lions’ perfect 6-0 start Saturday at Michigan Stadium with a touchdown pass from quarterback Chad Henne to freshman wide receiver Mario Manningham with no time left on the clock.

The touchdown grab was Manningham’s second of the game.

“Mario (Manningham) is always ready for that type of play,” Wolverine’s senior wide receiver Steve Breaston said. “The way he practices – you can tell in his eyes – he always wants the ball in his hands.”

With the win, Michigan moved to 4-3 on the season, 2-2 in the Big Ten, good for third place in the conference. Penn State (6-1, 3-1) dropped into a tie with Wisconsin for first place in the Big Ten.

Eslinger a semifinalist

Minnesota senior center Greg Eslinger has been named one of the 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award for the second year in a row.

Other Big Ten semifinalists are linebacker A.J. Hawk of Ohio State, linebacker Paul Posluszny of Penn State and offensive tackle Joe Thomas of Wisconsin.

The award will be given out on Dec. 7 at a dinner at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston. The dinner is a benefit for the American Cancer Society.

Eslinger is also a candidate for the 2005 Rimington Trophy, given to the nation’s top center.

Gophers BCS hopes

Minnesota is ranked 22nd in week one of the Bowl Championship Series standings.

Other Big Ten hopefuls include Penn State at 10th; Wisconsin, 14th; Ohio State, 15th; and Michigan State, 24th.

Players of the week

Minnesota’s women’s hockey forward Erica McKenzie was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Tuesday and goalie Brittony Chartier was named the conference’s defensive player of the week.

McKenzie had two goals and two assists in the Gophers’ weekend sweep of Bemidji State. Chartier logged a shutout in the first game of the series, and picked up both wins.

Captains announced

Minnesota men’s track and field coach Phil Lundin announced his captains for the 2006 season Tuesday.

Senior high jumpers John Albert and Kevin Netzer, senior thrower Karl Erickson, senior sprinter Andy Newman and senior distance runner Trent Riter will serve as the team’s co-captains.

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