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Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Holiday Bowl: Three keys for Washington

By Ted Miller

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.