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Northwestern football focused on Nebraska

Northwestern football coach PFitzgerald. | AP photo

Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald. | AP photo

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Updated: November 17, 2012 6:18AM

Quarterback Kain Colter remembers Northwestern’s game last season at Nebraska as clearly as any other.

‘‘We really wanted that one to get back on track,’’ Kolter said, referring to the Wildcats’ 3-5 record at the time.

No game might have been bigger for NU last season. The Wildcats’ 28-25 upset of the then-No. 9 Cornhuskers helped them to right the ship on their way to earning their fourth consecutive bowl
appearance under coach Pat Fitzgerald.

‘‘I remember just walking off the field, seeing a sea of red, and we were able to
silence the crowd,’’ Colter said. ‘‘I remember just the feeling in the locker room

It’s clear Nebraska and its fans remember that game, too. The rematch Saturday at Ryan Field (2:30 p.m.,
Ch. 7, 720-AM) is a sellout — and not just because NU fans are feeling what the players and Fitzgerald say is ‘‘the buzz’’ of their 6-1 squad. Cornhuskers fans had the game circled early, and the Omaha World Herald plans to send 10 people to cover the game.

‘‘They’ll be looking for revenge because we went there last year and got the job done,’’ Wildcats offensive lineman Brian Mulroe said.

Nebraska (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) is a formidable opponent, but NU (6-1, 2-1) already is bowl-eligible with five games left in the regular season.

‘‘We’re playing a very tough opponent,’’ Fitzgerald said.

The Cornhuskers are aver-
aging a Big Ten-best 292 rushing yards. The Wildcats have been strong on the ground, too, averaging 229.9 rushing yards.

Nebraska is coming off a bye week, so the game will mark the third time this season NU will face a rested foe. Four of the Wildcats’ eight conference games this season will have been against teams coming off bye weeks.

‘‘It is what it is,’’ Fitzgerald said. ‘‘That’s out of our control. We have two weeks
until our bye. I’ll drive them as hard as I can until then, and then we’ll rest.’’

After a 21-13 victory
Saturday at Minnesota that Fitzgerald called ‘‘less than pretty,’’ NU has two games left in October to achieve the successful month Fitzgerald wanted.

‘‘I think we’ve been average,’’ he said of the Wildcats’ 1-1 record in October. ‘‘We have two big games left. Let’s see how we handle it. The hard work of any team is how you handle success and respond to it. We’ve been in this situation before and played poorly.

‘‘It all comes back to the way you prepare. I’ll be a broken record on this: With 17- to 23-year-olds, that’s the challenge. We have distractions all over the place — we’re in midterms right now — but we have to prepare and handle our business and take that to Saturday.

‘‘We’ve talked about how good we feel, but this is where leadership steps up. I challenged them last week, and they did a pretty good job [against Minnesota]. Let’s see how we handle it this week.’’

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