October 17, 2014

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) The last time Nebraska played at Northwestern two years ago, so many Cornhuskers fans packed the stadium that the home team had to go to a silent count on offense.

Coach Bo Pelini wouldn't be shocked if a similar scenario unfolds again.

No. 19 Nebraska visits Northwestern in a game that matches two teams that played absolute thrillers the previous three years. They also are trying to keep pace in the Big Ten West race, and Pelini wouldn't be surprised if the Cornhuskers got another assist from their fans.

''It's what you always kind of expect from our fans,'' he said. ''They're going to travel well, they're going to be loud and they're going to be into it. I thought that was pretty special out there a couple years ago.''

It's just one of the wrinkles in what has been a wild series since Nebraska (5-1, 1-1) joined the Big Ten in 2011. The three games they have played have been decided by a grand total of seven points, with the Cornhuskers winning two, and the largest margin of victory was three.

''Can't expect anything different than that,'' Northwestern offensive lineman Paul Jorgensen said.

In 2011, Northwestern (3-3, 2-1) was a heavy underdog when it went to Lincoln and knocked off then-No. 9 Nebraska 28-25.

The Cornhuskers returned the favor the following year in Evanston, rallying from 12 down to match the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in school history and win 29-28. That delighted Nebraska fans who were so loud that Northwestern had to go to a silent count in its own stadium.

Nebraska won 27-24 in Lincoln last year when Jordan Westerkamp snagged Ron Kellogg III's tipped Hail Mary on the final play for a 49-yard touchdown.

Both teams are looking to shake off close losses and stay in the thick of the division race. Minnesota and Iowa are 2-0 in conference play and lead the division.

Nebraska is trying to reach the Big Ten title game for the second time in three years and capture its first conference championship since 1999, when it was in the Big 12. The Cornhuskers took a hit with their loss to Michigan State two weeks ago, coming up short 27-22 after they erased most of a 24-point deficit.

Northwestern fell by seven to Minnesota last week.

Here are some things to look for in this game:

ROOM TO RUN: The Cornhuskers are averaging 303.5 yards rushing and boast one of the most prolific ground attacks in the nation. But they had a rough time against Michigan State.

Nebraska ran for 47 yards in that game, its lowest total since a loss to Southern California in 2007, and Ameer Abdullah never got going. He managed just 67 yards from scrimmage, ending a nation-leading streak of 18 games with at least 100. With 878 yards rushing, he has a chance to become the first Cornhusker to run for 1,000 in three seasons.

AT HOME: Westerkamp grew up about a half hour from Evanston in Glen Ellyn and figures to have about 150 relatives at the game. If he continues to perform the way he has, they will enjoy the show. A sophomore, Westerkamp he is off to the best six-game start of any receiver in Pelini's seven seasons with 25 catches for 474 yards and three touchdowns. He set career highs with nine catches and 158 yards against Michigan State.

QUICK IMPACT: Northwestern running back Justin Jackson continues to draw rave reviews. The freshman has led his team in rushing in all six games and is the first Wildcat with back-to-back 100-yard games since 2012. He ran for 106 yards in in the loss to Minnesota after going for 162 in a win over Wisconsin.

NOT AGAIN: Defending the desperation pass has been a point of emphasis for Northwestern.

''Since that happened to us, we go over `Victory' and we pay a lot more attention to it since it is happening more this year and it happened to us last year,'' defensive lineman Chance Carter said.

HEALTHIER HUSKERS: The week off gave the injured Cornhuskers time to heal, notably linebackers David Santos and Marcus Newby, cornerback Daniel Davie and receivers Kenny Bell and Brandon Reilly. All are expected to play, with Santos back after missing two games.

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