Outside a handful of years, a game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers has always been a big deal.
The Washington Huskies are no strangers to tough OOC games, but recently those games have only been of any importance to the fans of Washington. Does anyone think Oklahoma, LSU, or Ohio State fans were circling their trip to Washington on the schedule as a big test?
Both Nebraska and Washington found themselves struggling with change after dominating runs in the 1990s. Nebraska never dipped quite as a low as Washington did, and they also rediscovered their identity much faster. Bringing back Coach Pelini thrust Nebraska back into their rough and tough mentality, and they are once again a team that can pound you on the ground, and suffocate your offense with stellar D.
Washington believes they have found the man to bring them back, in Steve Sarkisian. The jury is still out on whether or not Sarkisian is the one to turn the program back around, but it is impossible not to notice the energy he has brought to the program.
Last season was an unsuccessful season by Washington standards, but it was an improvement.
This second year, a lot of hype was generated for the team. The opening road game against BYU showed that the Huskies might not be as far along as the offseason hype led us to believe. This makes the game against Nebraska an even bigger deal for Washington. While losing to BYU didn’t ruin the season, it was a setback. Sarkisian’s Huskies rebounded against Syracuse, but the Orangeman are no Cornhuskers.
For Nebraska, this is the first real test of the 2010 season. After finishing the season in dominating fashion, Nebraska came into this season ranked in the top 10, and are looking a lot like the dominating Nebraska teams of the past. Gone is the air it out strategy that always looked awkward for Nebraska. Pelini and his staff have returned to a running style, implementing a read option attack similar to the Oregon Ducks.
Nebraska was hoping that Washington would be 2-0 going into this game, so they would perhaps be facing a top 25 team. That wasn’t to be, but the Huskies are still generally regarded as a dangerous team, especially at home.
Washington’s offense has not been as explosive as it seemed they could be, but it has shown flashes of greatness. Locker and his talented receiving corps are going to be in for a long day against the highly touted Nebraska secondary, and the offensive line will have their hands full as well.
Defensively, the Huskies will be facing the type of read-option attack that Oregon has been pounding the Huskies with for the last few years. The one silver lining for the defense is that Nebraska is trotting out a redshirt freshman quarterback, who has yet to face a hostile crowd on the road.
All that said, this has the potential to be a huge statement game for Locker and the Huskies. If the offense can consistently move the ball and play mistake free, it might just be a bit of a shootout at Husky Stadium.
This is the kind of game where Locker can lead his team and cement his legacy at Washington, but don’t start throwing him under the bus if Washington comes up short. This is a huge challenge, and will be a good indicator of where the Huskies program is at, and where it needs to go.
Nebraska 35- Washington 21