(18) Nebraska (10-3) vs. Washington (6-6) (+14)
Disappointment seems to be the theme of this game, and of bowl season in general lately.
First, this is a very disappointing matchup for what is usually regarded as the best non-BCS bowl game. These two teams already played each other, and Nebraska smoked Washington in Seattle. Why anyone would get excited for this game after that game and how the season subsequently went for both teams is beyond me.
Nebraska also has to be wildly disappointed with being in San Diego instead of some BCS bowl or other. They had a lead on Oklahoma and needed only to play defense and non turn the ball over to win the Big XII. They did neither and ended up in the Holiday Bowl instead, leaving the fans and players to only ask “what if”. Plus, Bo Pelini’s rage issues didn’t cause nearly the fun story that it should have, so we didn’t even get to make fun of it enough.
Also, Nebraska has to wonder what might have been if Taylor Martinez hadn’t hurt his ankle, severely damaging his effectiveness as a runner and screwing up their offense. Who knows how well they would have done if he could have continued running the ball as effectively as he had at the beginning of the season. Especially against Washington, when he, Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead all crossed the hundred-yard mark.
Washington is still rebuilding, so their record isn’t really shocking or anything. However, Jake Locker’s incredibly disappointing season is truly shocking, if only because so many talking heads were completely on his bandwagon to start the season. Everyone thought he was going to take Washington to the next level and contend for the Heisman.
Instead, he ranged from average to just plain awful and was no better than any of the other Tyrone Willingham holdovers. A bit of a shame, really, but only because he was so clearly overrated. He’s never actually produced as a starter. He just looked the part. This is his last shot at any kind of a legacy with the Huskies as well as improving his rapidly declining draft status. I’m sure the latter will shoot right back up when individual workout season starts in the spring, but the former is a bit more murky.
I doubt this game will be as much of a blowout as the first meeting. Then again, most games aren’t that kind of a blowout. I’m thinking Washington manages to stick close to Nebraska for a while, but the Huskers grind this game to a halt with their running game and deflate the Huskies’ confidence slowly but surely.
Pick: Nebraska wins but doesn’t cover