Pac-12: Nebraska Cornhuskers

Video: Pac-12 game of the week

September, 12, 2013

The key for UCLA's trip to Nebraska is the Bruins running game opening things up for QB Brett Hundley against a young Nebraska defense.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12 roundtable

September, 11, 2013
Editor's note: To watch the show on your smartphone, click here.

Week 3 features four Big Ten vs. Pac-12 nonconference matchups: No. 16 UCLA at No. 23 Nebraska; No. 19 Washington vs. Illinois (Chicago); No. 4 Ohio State at California and No. 20 Wisconsin at Arizona State. Join us at 2 p.m. ET as Michigan reporter Chantel Jennings moderates a discussion between Big Ten reporter Adam Rittenberg and Pac-12 reporter Ted Miller.

Video: Picks of the week

September, 10, 2013

Brett McMurphy makes his picks for the biggest games of Week 3: Wisconsin at Arizona State, UCLA at Nebraska and Alabama at Texas A&M.

Video: UCLA-Nebraska postgame wrap

September, 9, 2012

Kevin Gemmell wraps up the action from UCLA's win over Nebraska.

Video: Game of the Week -- Pac-12

September, 6, 2012

Taking a look at the keys for UCLA as it aims at upsetting Nebraska on Saturday in the Rose Bowl.

Video: Upset of the Week -- UCLA

September, 6, 2012

Chris Low makes his pick for the Upset of the Week and likes UCLA's chances against a banged up Nebraska team at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska has gained command in the third quarter over Washington, and the Huskies have given them a big assist in the kicking game.

A Washington punt interference penalty at the end of the first half helped set up a go-ahead field goal. The Huskies committed the same mistake early in the second half, and the refs tacked on an extra five yards to the original 15 when Washington coaches ran on the field to protest the call. Nebraska capitalized with is best sustained drive of the day, using Rex Burkhead and the running game.

But that wasn't the worst of it for Washington. After Nebraska's scores, both Huskies kickoff return men bobbled the ball, and the Cornhuskers pounced on it inside their own 1. That led to an easy touchdown, and now Nebraska leads 34-17. Let's see if the Huskers' D can now pin its ears back and get some serious pressure on quarterback Keith Price with a comfortable lead.

Washington can only kick itself for potentially booting away what had been a close game.

Nebraska starts out on fire

September, 17, 2011
LINCOLN, Neb. -- The prevailing theory as to why Nebraska lost to Washington in the Holiday Bowl after stomping the Huskies in the regular season is that the team didn't want to be there after losing in the Big 12 title game.

Well, motivation doesn't appear to be a problem early on for the Cornhuskers.

After a big return from freshman Ameer Abdullah -- who is announcing himself as maybe the most dangerous specialist in the Big Ten -- on the opening kickoff, Nebraska nearly scored on its first play from scrimmage. Tim Beck dialed up a great call by faking the option and then having Taylor Martinez throw deep, where he found Kenny Bell for a 50-yard gain. Nebraska scored on the next play, just 34 seconds into this game.

It's not a good sign for Washington, which is banged up in the secondary. The Huskies were clearly set up to try and stop Martinez from running the ball, but two completions later they already find themselves in a 7-0 hole.

Video: Nebraska-Washington preview

September, 17, 2011

Brian Bennett previews today's matchup between Nebraska and the Huskies.

Holiday Bowl: Three keys for Washington

December, 29, 2010
What do the Washington Huskies need to do to beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl? Here are three keys.

1. Get physical: Nebraska pushed Washington around in a 56-21 whipping in Seattle on Sept. 18, dominating both lines of scrimmage. Even the Huskies touted receiving corps got beat up by an aggressive press-man coverage from the 'Huskers. The Huskies need to get mad and man-up this go-around. There is no question that Nebraska is vastly superior on both lines. But the Huskies don't have to wilt like they did in the first game when they were outgained 533 yards to 246. Nebraska expects to take immediate physical control. The Huskies need to make a stand.

2. Big plays on defense: It's hard to imagine the Cornhuskers won't again move the ball well against a depleted Washington defense. But there also is a chance they will not be as focused and motivated in a rematch, and that could lead to mental errors: turnovers, penalties, miscues, a missed field goal, etc. A couple of big plays from the Huskies -- a sack, a tackle for a loss -- could disrupt a drive's rhythm. The Huskies can afford to bend. But they can't break and allow Nebraska to consistently finish drives in the end zone. The Cornhuskers had just one turnover in the first game. What might be different if they end up with three -- or more -- in Game 2?

3. Locker comes through: The Huskies still might not win if quarterback Jake Locker plays well, but they have no shot if he even approximates his 4-for-20, two interception performance from the first game. For one, if Locker is making plays with his arm and his legs, then Nebraska doesn't have the ball, which is a good thing for UW. And if Locker leads a playmaking, error-free attack, then maybe the Huskies have a chance.
The second bowl game for the Pac-10 features Washington's rematch with Nebraska in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on Thursday.

Here's a look.

WHO TO WATCH: While QB Jake Locker is the big name on Washington's offense -- and he needs to redeem himself for his dreadful numbers in the first meeting with the Cornhuskers -- he really is just the first name in a threesome of stars on offense along with running back Chris Polk and receiver Jermaine Kearse. All three need to come up big in this rematch. In Game 1, Polk rushed for just 55 yards with a long run of 9 yards. Kearse caught a 45-yard touchdown pass, but that was about it. All three need to put up big numbers for the Huskies to have a chance: Polk needs 100 yards rushing, Kearse 100 yards receiving and Locker 250 yards passing.

WHAT TO WATCH: Can the depleted Huskies defensive line hold off Nebraska's physical attack? The Huskies are down three key defensive linemen -- Cameron Elisara, Talia Crichton and Semisi Tokolahi -- due to injury. The line began the season as a question mark with dubious depth and it's fair to say that's even more of an issue in the postseason. In the first game, the Huskers rushed for 383 yards and dominated the Washington D-line. It's going to take an inspired effort from some young players -- four of the top-eight linemen are freshmen or redshirt freshmen -- for the story to be different in take two.

WHY WATCH: For one, there's a bit of curiosity as to whether the rematch will be any different than the original. So often teams talk about getting a second shot at a foe that embarrassed it, so, well, here you go Huskies. And that potential redemption starts with Locker. He's still solidly on the NFL radar, so if he produces a distinguished performance in his final game in a Huskies uniform, he could start to reclaim his reputation among NFL scouts. And he could walk away from the Huskies feeling pretty good about helping the program regain firm footing.

PREDICTION: While it's not unreasonable to suspect that the Huskies will be fired up and will play more competitively, it's hard to imagine them winning. The Cornhuskers are just so clearly superior on both lines. That's too much to overcome. Nebraska 41, Washington 24.

Stepping up in the bowls: Washington

December, 28, 2010
Few give the Washington Huskies much of a chance in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl -- in large part because they have already played the Nebraska Cornhuskers this year and the result didn't leave much intrigue: a 56-21 beatdown in Husky Stadium.

While the Huskies used a three-game winning streak at season's end to earn bowl eligibility, it's hardly certain they are a better team today than they were on Sept. 18, particularly with a decimated defensive line that will be missing three key players: Cameron Elisara, Talia Crichton and Semisi Tokolahi.

Obviously, the Huskies defense will have to play much better after giving up 533 yards in the first meeting. But can it? Or will the Huskies just have to outscore the Cornhuskers, which brings along the nation's No. 8 scoring defense?

So let's ask this question: Who might dramatically change this game if he stepped up with a marquee performance?

Quarterback Jake Locker: Too obvious? Well, it's the only answer. For the Huskies to have any chance, Locker needs to turn in his best work this season -- both with his arm and with his feet. And he should be plenty motivated to do so. Recall that the first meeting was widely seen -- here and other places -- as a showdown between Locker, the touted NFL prospect, and perhaps the best secondary in the nation. Well, if that was the case, the Cornhuskers won by knockout. Locker completed just 4 of 20 passes for 71 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown. He also rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown, but the performance was a public failure in a disappointing season for Locker. His NFL draft status started to apparently slide precipitously from sure-No. 1 overall to potentially the second-round. Locker, however, could redeem himself with a big evening, and that could send him into the NFL draft evaluation process with game film that might reignite flagging interest. The horrible result in the first game was hardly only Locker's fault. The Huskies played poorly in all phases. This Seattle Times article does a good job of explaining one area where Locker got little help: his receivers. But the only way the Huskies are going to produce a different result -- even if we're just talking about a competitive game -- is if Locker comes up big.

Did Arizona talk its way into Alamo Bowl?

December, 27, 2010
It would seem that bowl invitations should be simple things: A bowl picks the best team available to it.

But, as we all know, they aren't.

This is an interesting story from Patrick Finley of the Arizona Daily Star on the lengths to which Arizona went to beat out Washington for an invitation to the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Recall that (cough, cough) most projections, even at season's end, had the Huskies going to the Alamo Bowl, the Pac-10's No. 2 bowl after the BCS bowl selections, when Arizona finished the season with a four-game losing streak. While the Wildcats whipped the Huskies by 30 on Oct. 23 and owned a better overall record (7-5, vs. 6-6), Washington finished the season with a three-game winning streak and a better Pac-10 record (5-4 vs. 4-5).

Further, Washington hadn't been to a bowl game since 2002 and has long been considered one of the conference's best traveling teams in terms of fan support.

But, wrote Finley, it appears that the Huskies got outflanked by an aggressive campaign from Wildcats athletic director Greg Byrne.

The Wildcats flirted; Washington did not.

The comfort level went a long way for the Alamo Bowl.

"It's an arranged marriage for a month," Alamo Bowl vice president Rick Hill said.

In the end, though, Arizona in the Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma State and Washington in the Holiday Bowl vs. Nebraska might be better arrangements for everyone.

Arizona played Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last year, so a rematch was unappealing for all parties. Huskies fans are eager to see their team back in any bowl game, and San Diego if a great winter destination. The financial difference between the two games is negligible (bowl payouts are split among all Pac-10 teams; the conference provides a slightly higher travel allowance for the Alamo Bowl).

Still, it's interesting to see that an aggressive campaign can sway sentiments when it comes to bowl selections.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl

December, 5, 2010
Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-3) vs. Washington Huskies (6-6)

Dec. 30, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Nebraska take by Big 12 blogger David Ubben: If it seems like you've seen this movie before, it's because you have. Nebraska went up to Seattle this September and ran all over the Huskies, beating Washington 56-21. The Huskers racked up 383 rushing yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run by Taylor Martinez on the first play of the second half.

Even more impressive than the Huskers rush offense was its pass defense. The last time the Blackshirts crossed paths with Jake Locker, it cost the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft a big chunk of change. His 4-for-20 performance with a pair of interceptions -- one was returned for a touchdown -- started the beginning of a disappointing season for Locker.

He'll be ready to have a different result this time around. But after being burnt for more than 300 yards by Oklahoma's Landry Jones in the Big 12 Championship, Bo Pelini's defense will be ready to make sure Locker has similar results to the September meeting. After all, they're not short on NFL talent themselves. Cornerbacks Alfonzo Dennard and Prince Amukamara will be playing at the next level, and Amukamara could be a top five pick in 2011.

The Huskers came close to a BCS bid for the second consecutive season, but a midseason injury to Martinez brought Nebraska's offense back down to earth. He'll have plenty of time to heal for this one, and the freshman might look like his early-season self if separate injuries to both feet are nonfactors by late December.

Washington take by Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller: Washington used a late surge to earn bowl eligibility in a season that was all over the place in terms of emotions.

Over the first half of the season, the Huskies alternated winning and losing, disappointment and satisfaction. A poor performance at BYU was followed by a strong effort versus Syracuse. The Huskies then were blown out by Nebraska, only to beat USC in their next game. A loss to Arizona State was followed by a double-overtime win over Oregon State. That inconsistency was frustrating, but not as frustrating as what followed: three consecutive blowout defeats to Arizona, Stanford and Oregon. It was clear the Huskies weren't ready for primetime.

The chief problem was the play of both lines -- both were frequently overwhelmed. While Locker was suffering through an injury-riddled, disappointing season, the Huskies were mostly solid on offense. The defense was just terrible.

But then the schedule softened up, and the Huskies ran off three consecutive wins to reach 6-6 and earn bowl eligibility. The big question is: Are they improved enough to stay on the field with Nebraska, which crushed them on Sept. 18? Washington wants redemption for that loss, but it might not be able to keep up with the Cornhuskers.