After being bitten by the Bulldogs, the Huskers hope to harness the Huskies.
Clearly, the Huskers would like to wash away the bitter taste left in their mouths from last season's Holiday Bowl, but after their ugly win against Fresno State, a convincing win over Washington would carry with it more than the sweet taste of redemption.
After all, Nebraska's 2011 resume thus far consists of a meaningless tune-up against an FCS team and a surprisingly difficult win over a WAC team that has lost its last three bowl games.
This has perplexed many Husker fans; two games into the season, Nebraska has yet to shed much light on their true identity.
Are they a team with an inflated ranking, an impression that could cement itself after another lackluster game? Or are they a conference contender still finding its way through the first few chapters of their inaugural Big Ten season?
If Nebraska ever needed a statement game, one to reassert themselves, shore up their confidence and justify their Top 10 ranking, they cannot squander this weekend's opportunity to shine.
The time is now, lest they duplicate the frustrating roller coaster ride they endured last season.
In 2010, following a pair of games that left many questions unanswered, they throttled Washington, stumbled against South Dakota State and then thoroughly tamed the Kansas State Wildcats. Those uneven performances made it difficult to formulate an accurate opinion of the Big Red.
Yet just when it seemed that the South Dakota State game could have been an anomaly, the Huskers turned in another mistake-prone performance and stumbled against the Longhorns.
From that point, it seemed that Nebraska never fully recovered.
To be fair, Taylor Martinez was slowed by injury and opposing teams became more adept in defending him, yet (minus a game or two) the Huskers lost every game of consequence from that point on; Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and the Holiday Bowl rematch against the Huskies.
That's why a Husker-worthy performance in this game is so crucial.
Nebraska cannot afford to leave Laramie next week, en route to a date with the seemingly legitimate Badgers, with more question marks hanging over their helmets.
To avoid that potentially disastrous scenario, the Huskers need to focus on the following aspects of their game against the all-too-familiar Washington Huskies.
Taylor Martinez has five fumbles in his first two games, but fortunately, the Huskers have recovered them all. Perhaps his teammates have come to expect seeing loose footballs in T-Mart's vicinity and have learned to instinctively dive on his grenades.
Already, Nebraska has fumbled seven times in 2011, which is on par with the 45 fumbles they totalled last year.
This has to stop.
The offense must be able to sustain drives. Nebraska's two opponents have a combined T.O.P of nearly twenty-minutes more than the Big Red.
Quick strike capability is great, but championship teams cannot survive on the big play alone.
Long, sustained drives eat up the clock, instill team confidence and discourage opposing defenses.
This season, Nebraska has been consistently inconsistent.
Ameer Abdullah's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown took some of the sting out of Devon Wylie's 67-yard punt return for a Fresno State score, but serious work must still be done.
Without naming names, defensive line coach John Papuchis counted eight individual breakdowns on that play alone, more than he had ever seen in one play before.
Derek Carr stood behind a relatively green offensive line facing one of the more "elite" defenses in the country and walked away unscathed.
Bet the farm, that Pelini will withhold the Blackshirts again this week.
Yes, the Huskers are young up front, and, in Tim Beck's eyes, improving. According to senior LT Yoshi Hardrick, the Nebraska O-line got better with each play, culminating in Martinez's 46-yard TD sprint which salted the game away.
Though, just to play devil's advocate, the ability of NU's front five to push players around at the end of the game might have had something to do with Abdullah's electrifying return, a play that probably took the fight out of the 'Dogs.
Of the 444 total yards that Nebraska's defense surrendered, 169 yards belonged to the Bulldogs' RB Robbie Rouse, which was almost double his rushing total against Cal.
Nebraska will face Washington RB Chris Polk for the third time this Saturday.
Last September, the Blackshirts held him to just 55 yards. However, in the Holiday Bowl he ran wild, gaining 177 yards.
By season's end, he had compiled the second-most single season rushing yards in Husky history and has already surpassed the 100-yard mark in each of his two games this season.
Yes, the corners (without Dennard) are young and inexperienced, but they'll have to play error-free, mentally tough football against a Washington quarterback (not named Locker) that is slowly gaining confidence.
Having Dennard back would be a boon for the Huskers, but it shouldn't prevent sophomores Ciante Evans and Andrew Green from playing to the best of their individual abilities.
Martinez is one of the most explosive players in college football today. At virtually any moment, he can deliver a game-changing play. However, he can't work his T-magic every time he touches the ball.
If he could sit in the pocket a moment longer, go through his progressions and give more plays time to develop, instead of tucking the ball away and running at the first sign of trouble, the offense could develop more consistency (see item No. 2) and he might cut down on his fumbles (see item No. 1).
Naturally, developing into more of a dual threat quarterback takes time.
However, there is no time like the present for self-improvement.
We all know what Martinez can do; Burkhead too. But for this offense to become more multi-dimensional, another player needs to step up, especially while Brandon Kinnie is having a mini-slump of sorts.
The overly-simplistic answer is to give some fresh blood a chance. Take the al-dente approach; throw something against the wall until it sticks.
Who, if anyone, fits the bill? Aaron Green? Ameer Abdullah? Braylon Heard? Jamal Turner? Quincy Enunwa? Stanley Jean-Baptiste?
We'll never know until these players get some more touches.
And so, perhaps fittingly, this article comes full circle, ending at the beginning.
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck has recently stressed the need for the team to come tearing out of the tunnel and set the tone early.
No more three-and outs. Come out swinging and let the other team know you mean business.
Throw a few haymakers. Hit 'em in the mouth like the Osborne-led teams of old.
That's how you establish an identity, be it in yet another "dogfight" or a Big Ten debut.