Washington-Nebraska Game Thread From Husky Stadium

We’ll provide you with some random thoughts and observations from today’s Husky-Huskers game at Husky Stadium.

Fourth Quarter

Fifteen minutes to play. A few fans have left, but the majority seem to be hanging in here. Locker’s still behind center. I can’t emphasize enough what a tough day the pride of Ferndale is having. Looking toward campus, the fans are starting to stream out of the stadium now. I’m going to shut ‘er down, and try to get down on the field for the final minutes. It’ll be interesting to hear Sark and Jake’s take on this one. With 13 minutes left, Locker’s passed for 71 yards. The former Heisman Trophy candidate has completed 4 of 18 passes and has been intercepted twice.

Third Quarter

Locker just hit Jermaine Kearse for a 45-yard TD pass. But it comes of the heels of an 80-yard TD run by Nebraska QB Martinez. So we’re three plays into the third quarter and there’s been two TDs. Score: Nebraska 35, UW 21.

Maybe Locker will bust loose this half? Even if he does, the UW defense needs to figure out a way to stop Nebraska.

Old school: Looks like all of the Huskers are wearing high-top black shoes. Nice. They always said black shoes make you look slower, but Roy Helu Jr. just looked pretty fast on a 65-yard TD burst down the sidelines. Nebraska 42, UW 21. (The drive: 4 plays, 76 yards, 1:43 time of possession). So that’s three TDs in seven plays this half.

Hey, a stop: Washington just forced Nebraska to punt for only the third time.

More of the same: If there’s been any knocks about Jake Locker as a QB, it’s his throwing accuracy. He just missed a wide open Jermaine Kearse on a deep route. He aired it out 60 yards, but a wide-open Kearse could not get to run under it. Then he overshot a quick screen and topped it off by throwing an interception that was returned 31 yards for an interception. The ball was poorly thrown, behind his intended receiver. Nebraska 49, UW 21, 8:21. You know, if this was an NFL game the boo-birds would be out, calling for a quarterback change.

Fast and the Furious: Washington’s getting a taste of how quick and physical the Nebraska defense is. Their running backs can’t get to the outside and Locker’s throwing more balls off his back foot because of the Huskers’ pass rush.

Sea of Red: Seeing all of these thousands — some say as many as 20,000 Nebraska fans are in the crowd — gives you an idea why the Big 10 liked the idea of adding the Cornhuskers to the conference. Northwestern, Indiana and Illinois will now have a chance to sellout a home football game.

So much for a BCS Bowl: Nobody expected Washington win 10 or 11 games and earn a trip to a BCS Bowl this year. Now, the question is whether the Huskies will be able to get to six or seven wins and earn a trip to a lesser bowl. At the start of the season, I thought they might get to eight, or even nine, wins and wind up in the Holiday Bowl. Hard to say that now, although I have to keep reminding myself the Huskies are playing Nebraska, which could be a BCS-calibre team.

End of quarter: Nebraska 49, UW 21. Official attendance: 72,876.

Halftime Thoughts

Washington’s going to need more breaks — another fumble recovery, interception or special teams play … something — in order to hang wit the Huskers. And Locker’s play is perplexing. Clearly, Washington’s plan was to try and run the ball and control the clock. It worked on the 80-yard drive. But, somehow, Washington’s got to loosen the Huskers up with the pass. Maybe Nebraska’s taking away the passing game. Jermaine Kearse has been the target of just one pass.

It is a great day. After all of that rain on Friday, I was prepared for the worst when I woke up. But it’s a sunny, shirt-sleeve kind of day. Probably 100 boats, or more, are anchored off the shore in Lake Washington. It’s a good day to impress recruits. An upset victory might be enough to sway some kids. Right now,  Mariners’ CEO Howard Lincoln probably has a better chance of becoming a standup comedian than the Huskies do of winning this game.

First Half

I just lost, somehow, all of my game posts. Man, they were enlightening, too. Oh well, UW just got a big break when they stripped the Nebraska backup QB and came up with the fumble. Polk scores from 6 yards out and the Huskies are back within a touchdown: Nebraska 21, UW 14, 5:06 left in half.

Nebraska negated that momentum with a quick TD to go up 28-14 and that’s the halftime score.

The game started bad for Washington’s Jake Locker, and it hasn’t gotten much better. Locker threw an interception on the UW’s first possession that led to a two-play 48-yard drive — a 24-yard run and then a 24-yard pass from Taylor Martinez to Mike McNeill for the TD.  A 55-yard pass set up the Huskers’ next TD to make it 14-0 with 10:45 left in the first quarter.

Suddenly I was filled with Week 3 memories from September, 2008. You remember that day? Oklahoma steamed over the Huskies 55-14 at Husky Stadium.

But Washington regrouped and marched 80 yards. They passed just once and pretty much just pounded it at the Huskers. Locker capped the impressive drive with a 7-yard scramble for the TD.

The crowd noise seemed to bother Nebraska for the next couple series, and Washington’s offense bogged down against a defense that’s as good as advertised. The Cornhuskers started grinding itupfront  out and Martinez — boy he is quick — started making things happen with his feet and with his arm.

Locker’s Heisman Trophy chances are taking another big hit. He’s thrown for just 20 yards. He’s 2-for-10 with the interception. Nebraska has out-gained the UW 247-123.

Pre-Game

There’s a little over 14 minutes on the clock and the stadiums’ starting to fill up. The west end zone is a sea of red. And, wow, just noticed the east end zone beneath the large video scoreboard is about 3/4ths red. They’re saying there’s as many as 20,000 Nebraska fans at today’s game. No wonder the Big Ten liked the idea of adding Nebraska to the conference. Schools like Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois now have a chance of selling out a home football game.

Just took a closer look as the Star Spangled Banner was played and there’s red everywhere. Behind the Nebraska bench on the south side, way up high on the north side above the Don James Center.

Controversy

ESPN.com reported that UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Reggie Bush looked like an idiot with the way he handled the Heisman Trophy bru-ha-ha. Haven’t had a chance to read what Sark put up on the gohuskies.com Website after that report.

Who’s Gonna Win?

Like a lot of you, I’ve over-analyzed this game. No way Washington’s offensive line can handle Nebraska’s defense? But the Cornhuskers haven’t faced a team as good as Washington. The No. 8 Huskers beat Western Kentucky (49-10) and Idaho (38-17). And the stadium’s going to be loud. Will Nebraska freshman QB Taylor Martinez handle the noise and the pressure? Will Jake Locker take the team on his shoulders and play like a Heisman Trophy winner? Can Washington’s receivers get loose against a pair of the best cornerbacks in the country in Prince Amukamarfa and Alfonzo Dennard?  Has Washington been sitting on anything strategically, saving it for this game? I doubt it, but we’ll find out.

The pick: Hesitantly because I think Washington has a chance if things break right early, but I’m going with Nebraska, 31-22. Huskers are just too dominant up front on both sides of the ball.

In Case You Missed It

Hansville’s Joi Niemeyer, a student at the UW and former North Kitsap and Kingston athlete, is among Playboy’s girls of the Pac-10.

HOF for Benji

Benji Olson, the South Kitsap who became Washington’s only two-time first-team AP All-American, will be inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame on Oct. 29. Olson, a guard, went on to play 10 years in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans.

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