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2010 Holiday Bowl - Nebraska vs. Washington
Nebraska RB Roy Helu & UW QB Jake Locker
Nebraska RB Roy Helu & UW QB Jake Locker
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 30, 2010


Yeah, we did this before and it wasn't pretty. Can Washington do any better than it did against in September when it got blasted at home by Nebraska 56-21? Can Jake Locker give his reputation a boost after completing 4-of-20 passes in the first game? Check out CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2010 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.

2010 Bridgepoint Education Holiday

Nebraska
(10-3) vs. Washington (6-6)

 
Thursday, December 30th 7:00 ESPN  

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SCROLL DOWN to the bottom for all the CFNers' confidence picks and bowl history

By Pete Fiutak

We did this already, and it was bad.

Obviously, there’s no reason whatsoever to play the 2010 Holiday Bowl considering the two teams already played on September 18th with Nebraska going into Seattle and leaving with millions of Jake Locker’s dollars. The Huskers won 56-21 in a game that wasn’t even that close.

Statistics In Yards
  W
5,385 Total
Offense
4,373
3,955 Total
Defense
4,814
32.7 Scoring
Offense
22.1
17.2 Scoring
Defense
31.2
3,375 Rushing
Offense
1,970
1,876 Rushing
Defense
2,385
2,010 Passing
Offense
2,403
2,079 Passing
Defense
2,429
0.08 Turnover Margin 0.00
Position Rankings
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
N   W
4 QBs 5
4 RBs 4
3 WRs 3
3.5 O Line 3
4 D Line 3
4.5 LBs 4
5 DBs 3.5
4.5 STs 3.5
4 Coach 4
CFN 2010 2011 CFN Bowl Previews & Confidence Picks
- New Mexico - BYU vs. UTEP
- Human. - Fresno St vs. NIU
- New Orleans - Troy vs. Ohio
- St. Pete - UL vs. So Miss
- Las Vegas - Utah vs. Boise St
- Poinsettia - SDSU vs. Navy
- Hawaii - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
- Little Caesars - Toledo vs. FIU
- Ind. - Air Force vs. GT
- Champs - NC St vs. WVU
- Insight - Iowa vs. Mizz
- Military - Mary. vs. ECU
- Texas - Illinois vs. Baylor
- Alamo - Ok St vs. Arizona
- Armed Forces - SMU vs. Army
- Pinstripe - SU vs. KSU
- Music City - UNC vs. Tenn
- Holiday - Neb vs. Wash
- Meineke - USF vs. Clemson
- Sun - Miami vs. ND
- Liberty - UCF vs. Georgia
- Chick-fil-A - FSU vs. USC
- TicketCity - NW vs. TT
- Outback - PSU vs. Florida
- Capital One - MSU vs. Bama
- Gator - Mich vs. Miss St
- GoDaddy - MU vs. MT
- Cotton - A&M vs. LSU
- Compass - Pitt vs. UK
- Kraft - BC vs. Nevada
- Rose - UW vs. TCU
- Fiesta - OU vs. UConn
- Orange - Stan. vs. VT
- Sugar - Ark. vs. OSU
- BCS Champ. - Aub. vs. Oregon
How bad was it for Locker? The Washington quarterback, who was projected by many to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, completed 4-of-20 passes for 71 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions with 45 of the yards coming on one play and with one of the picks going for a Nebraska score. It was a huge statement game for the Huskers as part of a 5-0 start and a regular season that would end with a Big 12 North title and a shot at the championship.

It was a good year for Nebraska, but even at 10-3 it hasn’t been necessarily a success considering the goals were much, much higher. The future 12th team in the Big Ten had dreams and aspirations of playing in the BCS Championship, considering a favorable schedule, a killer defense, and an improved offense, but the defense wasn’t the defense of 2009 while injuries and inconsistency were a problem on offense. In any other year, losing to Texas wouldn’t be anything get in a twist over, but it’s embarrassing this season, especially at home, while the offense couldn’t get rolling in a penalty-plagued 9-6 loss to Texas A&M. After the tough loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship, the Huskers lost three games by a total of 13 points.

But will they be motivated?

With a head coach like Bo Pelini in charge, intensity isn’t going to be a problem, but all the barking and all the talking about how Washington can’t be taken for granted probably isn’t going to work for a team that won so handily the first time around. But Nebraska isn’t necessarily like that and it’s going to want to make a statement after a few shaky moments late in the year, including a fortunate one-point win over Iowa State. If the 2009 finish set the tone for 2010, then a second-straight dominant bowl win should make the spotlight that much brighter going into the inaugural Big Ten campaign.

Nebraska has won four of its last five bowl games including a phenomenal 3309 destruction of Arizona in last year’s Holiday Bowl. It’s a different story for Washington, who has lost four of its last five bowl games and seven of its last nine. That might be bad, but the last bowl appearance being the loss to Purdue in the 2002 Sun Bowl is worse.

The Washington season is half full: if won its last three games including two away dates against Cal and Washington State to overcome a 3-6 start to become bowl eligible. The Washington season is half empty: There were two one-point wins and with four of the six victories coming by a grand total of 12 points. The Huskies don’t care that the season started ugly, and they certainly don’t care that they’re taking up USC’s bowl spot, had the Trojans been eligible. No matter how it happened and no matter how the Huskies got to San Diego, this is a major step forward for a one-time superpower that hit a poor and bizarre skid into mediocrity.

To get to six wins, the Dawgs needed a heroic performance from Locker in a win over USC, a thrilling win over Oregon State, and a gutsy call to go for a touchdown in the final seconds to beat Cal. This hasn’t been an easy year, and it hasn’t been consistent in any way, but the program would change and the season would suddenly become rousing success with a win over Nebraska. Suddenly, this would be the hot team going into the new Pac 12, head coach Steve Sarkisian would get a bigger profile, and Washington football would finally be back on the map. It might take a special effort, but considering that no one outside of the greater Seattle era thinks this will be close, the pressure totally off. Considering the Huskies should have the best player on the field, Locker, they should have a fighting chance. Maybe.

The problem is that Washington wasn’t just lousy against Nebraska; it stunk it up against Oregon and Arizona, too. It’s going to take a special effort, a bad, Iowa State-game performance from Nebraska, and a slew of breaks for this to be a competitive game, but the last four Holiday Bowls haven’t exactly been scintillating. Even if this is another Nebraska blowout it’ll be worth the watch just to see how the team looks, but don’t be stunned if Locker plays like he has something to prove.

Players to Watch
: The NFL scouts would love to jump back on the Jake Locker bandwagon. Stanford’s Andrew Luck is now the be-all-end-all No. 1 pick in the draft, but Locker could creep back into the discussion as the No. 2 because of his combination of size, arm strength, and mobility that’s even better than Luck’s skill set. The problem is that Locker can’t throw the forward pass. He might be the ultimate gamer, and he might have all the tools, but he only completed 57% of his throws this year and went over 300 yards one time. Five of his 17 touchdown passes came in one game, a win over Oregon State, and he has a problem with interceptions. And then there was the Nebraska game. Yes, it really was every bit as ugly as the 4-for-20 stat line, and it was so bad that he has nowhere to go but up if he does anything against the Huskers the second time around. He has had to carry the team on his back, and with time to get healthy after having problems with bad ribs, a leg problem, a concussion, and a variety of other injuries.

While Locker should be better now that he has time to heal up, the layoff should do wonders for Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, who was terrific over the first half of the year, suffered an ankle injury, and wasn’t right the rest of the way, much to the chagrin of his coaches. Against the Huskies the first time around, he was brilliant running 19 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns while completing 7-of-11 passes for 150 yards and a score. He’s not going to beat the Dawgs this time around with his passing ability, even though he’s expected to get top target Niles Paul back from a foot injury, but if he can regain his early season rushing form, Washington won’t have an answer.

Trying to slow down Martinez will be Washington LB Mason Foster, who was criminally left out of the Butkus Award discussion. An explosive athlete, with sharp instincts, he followed up an 85-tackle season by being the leader of the U-Dub defense with 150 tackles with double-digit stops in every game but the win over Cal; he made nine tackles. With good size and great range, he has a ten-year pro career ahead of him, and with blow-up hitting ability, he’ll be on plenty of highlight reels. He made 13 stops against the Huskers the first time around as the only part of the defense that worked. This time around, he’ll have to do even more.

Nebraska will win if ... it’s well motivated. Again, Bo Pelini teams aren’t going to skimp on the effort when there’s a statement to be made, and Pelini has proven to be great when he gets time to prepare. From all indications, Nebraska is taking the rematch very, very seriously, grouchy about the way Washington was a bit too yappy the first time around. The players seem to get it, and while there might be a confidence there earned by a 56-21 blowout in the first game, nothing is being taken for granted and the defense is looking to do even more with the college football world watching. As long as the team is fired up, there shouldn’t be a problem against a Washington run defense that gives up yards in bunches, and an offense that sputters way too much unless Locker is special. The Husker offensive line should be able to pound away at will.

Defensively, the key will be getting Washington into third-and-long situations. Even with an NFL quarterback like Locker under center, and even with his mobility, the offense is miserable on third downs and isn’t great at keeping the chains moving. Keeping the Nebraska offense off the field will be a must, but that’ll be easier said than done. The Huskers allow teams to convert on third downs just 29% of the time.

Washington will win if ... Taylor Martinez is shut down or gets knocked out. He wasn’t able to get the offense going in the loss to Texas, he didn’t play in the close call against Iowa State, and he was hobbling in the loss to Texas A&M and wasn’t right against Oklahoma. The Washington offense isn’t going to work against the Nebraska defense, even if Locker is terrific, and the only way this is close is if this is a low scoring slugfest. Foster and the rest of the defensive front will have to sell out against the run and Martinez, along with running backs Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu, have to be kept under wraps. Washington will take its chances against anything Nebraska tries to do through the air, but Martinez has to have a poor game. If he’s even decent, forget about this being close.

Despite what happened the first time around, Nebraska can be thrown on … but everything has to be working right. The pass rush isn’t nearly as fearsome as it was last year, and Locker’s mobility should make up for anything funky the Pelini’s throw at him. Locker has to be accurate, and careful, like Oklahoma’s Landry Jones was in the Big 12 Championship. Washington doesn’t have the weapons OU boasts, but Jermaine Kearse and D’Andre Goodwin lead a decent group of targets who can make things happen if Locker gets into a groove. Washington can’t be passive and it’ll have to take several big chances, but hitting on the short-to-midrange passes would go a long way to keeping this close.

What will happen: Locker won’t be miserable, and Washington will play reasonably well, but the lines don’t have a prayer for what Nebraska is about to bring. Martinez will be fine, but the real stars will be the running tandem of Burkhead and Helu, who’ll combine for well over 200 yards as they control the game throughout. This won’t be the brutal bloodletting of last year’s Nebraska Holiday Bowl win over Arizona, or the debacle in Seattle in September, but the Huskers will cruise to a strong win that’ll make the Big Ten proud.

CFN Prediction: Nebraska 38 … Washington 14 ... Line: Nebraska -14
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Holiday Bowl History
2009 Nebraska 33, Arizona 0
2008 Oregon 42, Oklahoma St 31
2007 Texas 52, Arizona State 34
2006 California 45, Texas A&M 10
2005 Oklahoma 17, Oregon 14
2004 Texas Tech 45, California 31
2003 Washington State 28, Texas 20
2002 Kansas St 34, Arizona State 27
2001 Texas 47, Washington 43
2000 Oregon 35, Texas 30
1999 Kansas State 24, Washington 20
1998 Arizona 23, Nebraska 20
1997 Colorado St. 35, Missouri 24
1996 Colorado 33, Washington 21
1995 Kansas St. 54, Colorado St. 21
1994 Michigan 24, Colorado St. 14
1993 Ohio State 28, BYU 21
1992 Hawaii 27, Illinois 17
1991 BYU 13, Iowa 13
1990 Texas A&M 65, BYU 14
1989 Penn State 50, BYU 39
1988 Oklahoma St 62, Wyoming 14
1987 Iowa 20, Wyoming 19
1986 Iowa 39, San Diego State 38
1985 Arkansas 18, Arizona State 17
1984 BYU 24, Michigan 17
1983 BYU 21, Missouri 17
1982 Ohio State 47, BYU 17
1981 BYU 38, Washington State 36
1980 BYU 46, SMU 45
1979 Indiana 38, BYU 37
1978 Navy 23, BYU 16
 
Pick ATS: Nebraska  Confidence Score: 112
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 28 out of 35

Pete Fiutak: Pick ATS - Nebraska  Pick Confidence - 32
- Booooooooo. We did this already, and it sucked. Nebraska embarrassed Washington 56-21 in Seattle and turned Jake Locker from a first overall pick to possibly out of the first round with a 4-of-20, 71-yard, one touchdown, two interception performance. If this isn't another Nebraska blowout, be ecstatic.

Richard Cirminiello: Pick ATS - Nebraska   Pick Confidence - 35
- The Huskies still have nightmares about their game with Nebraska on Sept. 18, a 56-21 loss. Husker QB Taylor Martinez was at full strength then. He should be again later in the month.

Matt Zemek: Pick ATS - Nebraska  Pick Confidence - 26
- Nebraska will have almost four weeks to get healthy… and celebrate the fact that it never has to be part of a Big 12 bowl tie-in ever again.

Russ Mitchell: Pick ATS - Nebraska  Pick Confidence - 17
- How disappointing is this? Why not LSU v. Nebraska in the Cotton? Or Iowa v. Nebraska in the Insight? How is this a reward for Nebraska? Or us for that matter? Terrible. What a waste of a good program.

Barrett Sallee: Pick ATS - Nebraska  Pick Confidence - 32
- Coach Sark got his Huskies to a bowl game, and gets quite a test with Nebraska. Jake Locker vs. the black shirts should make for intriguing television in what typically is one of the most exciting bowl games of the season.

Gabe Harris: Pick ATS - Nebraska   Pick Confidence - 1
Brian Harbach: Pick ATS - Nebraska  Pick Confidence - 23
Matthew Smith: Pick ATS - Washington  Pick Confidence - 19
Billy Gomila: Pick ATS - Washington  Pick Confidence -   5
Clucko (A coin flip): Pick ATS - Washington   Pick Confidence -  30