Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Holiday Bowl: Nebraska (10-3) vs. Washington (6-6)
By Ted Miller
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.