The Dawgs face Nebraska at 12:30 tomorrow. Go purple, be gold! (One of these days I’m going to write about how bad Seattle teams are at making little slogans. Or maybe that’s every team).
I want to pick the Huskies to win this game, but I just can’t quite do it. Still, a week or two ago, I gave them little chance, while now I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they won. Reasons for my change in perspective: I’m not so sure that Nebraska’s as good as their ranking, and they’re starting a freshman quarterback in front of the biggest Husky Stadium crowd in years. Unfortunately, those reasons are all about the Huskers. Part of that is because I know much more about the Huskies, but it’s mostly because I’m not convinced that UW can do enough to win this game. Can they stop a spread option offense similar to the Oregon offense that has run over them the last few years? Can the offensive line open enough holes to provide the rushing attack that will be necessary? Can Jake be accurate enough to work against a 7 man secondary? I can see the answer to any of those questions being “yes”, but I’m not willing to commit on any of them. This game is getting compared to the USC victory last year, but I think a win here would be different. That game, the Dawgs were huge underdogs who caught USC sleeping. That won’t happen Saturday. A win against Nebraska would be a statement rather than a surprise. I think they can make the statement, but I’m doubtful they will.
Nebraska 31, UW 24
Watching the Holiday Bowl last year, and seeing the 20th ranked Huskers dismantle Arizona 33-0, I remember thinking NU may be a top 10 team by the time UW faces them. As it has turned out, Nebraska is #8 in the country and rightfully so. For Washington to compete in this game, it starts up front on both sides of the ball. On defense, UW must be effective stopping Nebraska’a potent rushing attack, and on offense, the O-line had better protect Jake against a stellar D-line. I don’t think Big Red knows exactly what it’s in for in terms of hostile atmosphere, similar to when LSU came to town last year. The crowd noise should rattle Martinez, their freshman QB, and some misty, overcast conditions will paint a perfect backdrop for a USC-esque upset. However, I just don’t have the confidence to pick UW in this one. Nebraska reminds me of Oregon with their mobile quarterback and zone read option attack. This deceptive style of offense has killed the Huskies in recent years. Keep Martinez under 250 total yards and I like our chances. On offense, the Huskies have the weapons, but Nebraska counters with a great secondary and given the pressure Jake will be under, he might start forcing some throws.
I have waited for this game for a while, but ultimately I see Nebraska winning, 31-20.
This game is a brutal one for me. I am picking Nebraska to win, but that is not what my heart says will happen. I am a Husky through and through, so of course my soul says the Dawgs always win. But throughout the day today, all I can think about is Taylor Martinez running all over the UW defense. The Dawgs have been systematically unable over the past year to stop an opponent for all 4 quarters. Every game, the opponent rips off a big play, or converts a 3rd and long, which breaks the Huskies backs. I will say the UW defense has played better this year for sure, but a highly talented scrambling QB like Martinez will cause problems. I have 100% confidence the Husky offense will score, no matter how good Nebraska’s defense is. The Dawgs have too many weapons. They will get their points (the BYU game was an aberration). I just keep coming back to the dreaded “Big Play” that will invariably be the downfall of the Huskies. I hope I am completely and utterly wrong on this prediction.
Nebraska 34 – Washington 31
This may be the biggest Husky game in years. It definitely is the biggest since around 2003, since the Huskies have their best team since then. Many people have compared this game to the USC one last year, but, like Matthew, I don’t see it that way. If the Dawgs pull off the upset I see this game more like the Miami game in 2000. If UW wins this game it could really jump-start them. The Huskies will be ready and I don’t think they’ll get blown out. I expect a competitive game but in the end I don’t see us winning this one. It’s not out of the question by any means, as the week went on I started to believe more and more. If the Huskies lose this it will be because of the battle on the lines. Both lines need to step up against a superior opponent. The skill positions are fine. Our quarterback, receivers, and linebackers are better than theirs. But, it’s lost on the lines I think. It will be great to see Husky Stadium packed and hear it rock like it hasn’t in years. I’m praying for a repeat of that 2000 Miami game, but I don’t think they can quite do it.
Nebraska 24 – Huskies 21