Nebraska vs. Northwestern football, 11.5.2011 19

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini makes a point to official Michael Mahouski durning the fourth quarter against Northwestern at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011. (LAURA PALES/For the Lincoln Journal Star)

Last year's loss to Northwestern ended up costing Nebraska a chance to play for the Big Ten football title.

Does the shocking home loss give the Huskers any extra motivation heading into Saturday’s trip to Evanston, Ill.?

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said that he doesn’t buy into that premise.

“We never play on the revenge angle,” Pelini said. “It’s about execution. It’s about doing what we need to do to play better and be a better football team. Everybody has their different motivations. Whatever that is, it is. But at the end of the day it comes down to what you’re going to do between the white lines.”

Bo a fan of Wildcats' offense

Pelini praised Northwestern’s unique spread offense during Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference.

“It’s well thought-out,” Pelini said. “I think they use their personnel very well.”

Northwestern’s offense is averaging 229.86 yards per game on the ground and uses multiple quarterbacks and formations.

However, Pelini said Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian both have similar skill sets and the Wildcats’ offense doesn’t change too dramatically based on who is lined up behind center.

“They are both capable of running the football,” Pelini said. “They are both capable of passing the football. Their strengths are obviously a little bit different. You have to be ready for whatever they do against you.”

Having a ball

In Wisconsin’s victory over Purdue last Saturday, senior running back Montee Ball scored his 72nd career touchdown and became the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer.

Ball broke former Wisconsin Heisman winner Ron Dayne’s record and ran for a career-high 247 yards in the win. The performance earned him his fifth career Big Ten offensive player of the week nod.

The 12th man

Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, currently the longest tenured Big Ten coach, joined an elite group with last Saturday's 19-16 double-overtime win over Michigan State.

It was the 100th win for Ferentz at Iowa, making him just the 12th Big Ten coach to win 100 games at one school.

Always a surprise

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Northwestern’s Kain Colter always expects the unexpected.

The versatile quarterback/wide receiver usually does not find out exactly how the Wildcats will utilize him for the upcoming game until within 48 hours of the contest.

“Probably by some point on Thursday afternoon we have everything set and put the finishing touches for him on Friday,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

VanHoose has hoops skills, too

Northwestern freshman cornerback Nick VanHoose was named Big Ten freshman of the week.

VanHoose broke up three passes last week against Minnesota, one coming on a critical third-and-goal in the fourth quarter that helped clinch the Wildcats’ win and make the program bowl eligible.

Fitzgerald said VanHoose has become one of the leaders on the defense. The coach admits that he knew VanHoose would be special when he recruited him late in the process.

“My favorite part of recruiting him was (watching him) playing basketball,” Fitzgerald said. “He was good with the ball in his hands, but he was ridiculous on defense. He was running all of the court and you’d hear that court screech when a guy dives for the ball. I think I heard about 12 of those when I was at the game.”

Around the conference

* Minnesota coach Jerry Kill is back at work this week after his latest seizure.

Kill said Tuesday he's "going full speed" after the episode following Saturday's loss to Northwestern. Kill spent that night in a hospital for observation and was discharged the next morning after tests confirmed he was in "excellent health," according to team physician Dr. Pat Smith.

* Ryan Klachko, an Illinois offensive lineman who transferred from Nebraska in August, has decided to stop playing football after suffering what Beckman said were "numerous" concussions. Illini coach Tim Beckman said  Klachko had suffered concussions during practices more than once the past couple of months. He was sitting out this season to comply with NCAA transfer rules.

* Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray's status is in question again. The senior has been wearing a walking boot on a sprained left ankle he aggravated in Saturday's game.

* Iowa running back Mark Weisman's status for Saturday's game against Penn State is uncertain after he sprained his right ankle in last week's double-overtime win over Michigan State. Weisman had an MRI performed Monday that didn't reveal anything serious. But coach Kirk Ferentz says Weisman would have to make a lot of progress to play against the Nittany Lions.

* Minnesota confirmed the cancellation of two games against North Carolina. The Gophers originally agreed to travel to Chapel Hill in 2013 and host the Tar Heels in 2014, but they're now working to fill those dates with other teams.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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