This seems all too familiar.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers won the Big 12 North Division. They then lost a thrilling Big 12 Championship Game that left Nebraska fans heartbroken. Finally, the Huskers will head to San Diego where they meet a Pac-10 opponent.
Their opposition seems to have drawn an even shorter straw than Arizona did in last season’s Holiday Bowl.
Nebraska and Washington certainly didn’t expect to see each other again before next season’s game in Lincoln. The good news for Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian is that he won’t be watching Ndamukong Suh ravage his backfield as Suh did Arizona's last year. The bad news is that the Cornhuskers’ menacing defense has three-and-a-half weeks to heal up.
The 56-21 throttling by Nebraska likely still haunts the Huskies’ nightmares. Could a sequel be waiting for them in California? All signs point to yes.
The star of the earlier matchup was Cornhusker quarterback Taylor Martinez. Hobbled by turf toe and ankle troubles, Martinez can still be efficient, but is a shadow of his early-season form.
What has evolved due to Martinez’s occasional absence is a dual-threat Wildcat formation featuring running backs Roy Helu, Jr. and Rex Burkhead. The two combined for 214 yards and three touchdowns rushing versus the Huskies defense earlier this year. Burkhead has also shown a knack for throwing the football. Three of his four passes have been completed, all for touchdowns.
Consistency is the key to Nebraska’s success on offense. Coincidentally, the Cornhuskers’ most potent weapon keeps the football out of the end zone.
Bo Pelini’s defense threw Washington’s star quarterback for a loop earlier in the season. Jake Locker went 4-for-20 passing with 71 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Locker also had 11 rushing attempts for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Overall, the Huskies offensive attack could only muster 246 yards versus Nebraska. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence to suggest that Washington will have a better outing the second time around.
The Cornhuskers boast the nation’s No. 8 scoring defense while Washington ranks No. 93 in scoring offense. The Huskies rushing defense ranks at No. 103 out of 120. That’s not going to cut it against Nebraska’s bread and butter. If Washington wants to walk away from San Diego victorious, they’ll need to put forth a Herculean effort.
Fortunately, for the Huskies, they’re currently riding a three-game winning streak while Nebraska may be somewhat down from their 23-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. Then again, that provided little consolation for the Arizona Wildcats one year ago.
With their current offensive injuries, Nebraska likely won’t clobber Washington to the tune of 33-0 as they did the Wildcats last year. On the other hand, the Cornhusker defense isn’t going to take prisoners and Nebraska already knows how to muzzle these Huskies.
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