So it's finally Nebraska week at Northwestern. This road trip is probably the most anticipated one of the season since the Big Ten added the Cornhuskers in the summer of 2010 for a couple of reasons: Nebraska has a reputation of having a rabid fan base and selling out Memorial Stadium. In fact, Saturday's game is expected to be an NCAA record 317th consecutive sellout in Lincoln. The record dates back to Nov. 3, 1962.
The last time the Wildcats played Nebraska was in the 2000 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. And some may not want to relive the memory: Nebraska won 66-17 and had outscored the Wildcats 31-7 in the second quarter and then poured on 28 unanswered points in the second half. Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald, who was a defensive grad assistant at Idaho at the time, quietly remembered the game during his Monday press conference.
"I watched the game, I was at home," Fitzgerald said. "I flew back from Idaho and had a bunch of people over for a party at our house and it kinda stunk. The wings were good, the food was good, but the party stunk. But that's many, many moons ago."
What is happening now, though, is that NU is going to face one of the toughest defenses of the season. There's a slight sigh of relief that All-American defensive tackle Jared Crick is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. But then the Cornhuskers counteract with a guy like linebacker Lavonte David, who is tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 77 tackles.
Speaking of tackling, missed tackles have been an issue over the past couple of weeks, despite the Wildcats' 59-38 victory at Indiana Saturday which snapped a five-game losing streak. When asked how the tackling was after practice Tuesday, Fitzgerald said, "Great."