2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - Washington at Nebraska
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Sept. 17 at Nebraska 51 … Washington 38
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) LINCOLN, Neb. -- Taylor Martinez threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third, and No. 11 Nebraska held off Washington for a wild 51-38 victory on Saturday.
Martinez looked to have put away the Huskies with his 6-yard TD run, but Keith Price passed 52 yards to James Johnson for his fourth TD toss to make it a 13-point game with 4:27 left.
Nebraska (3-0) won the third meeting of the teams in 364 days. Nebraska won in Seattle last September but lost in a rematch at the Holiday Bowl.
The Huskies (2-1), who had their six-game winning streak ended, kept coming back even after big mistakes allowed Nebraska to quickly increase its 20-17 halftime lead to 34-17.
Washington's Chris Polk ran 22 times for 130 yards, and Nebraska's Rex Burkhead had carries for 120.
Price was 21 of 37 for 274 yards. He was intercepted twice, with his last one allowing Nebraska to go into victory formation with just over a minute to play.
Martinez completed 10 of 21 passes for 155 yards, and he ran for 83 yards on 17 carries.
Nebraska has scored at least 40 points in each of its first three games for the first time since the 1995 national championship season.
It looked as if the Huskers would take control after Washington made a couple of bad plays in the third quarter.
The Huskies gave Nebraska a short field when Desmond Trufant was penalized 15 yards for interfering with Burkhead as he tried to catch a punt, and they were charged another 5 yards for sideline interference.
Nebraska started at its 44 and ran on seven of eight plays before Burkhead bulled into the end zone from the 1.
The Huskers were set up at the Washington 1 seconds later. Bishop Sankey dropped the kickoff, and teammate Kevin Smith couldn't come up with the ball as a horde of Huskers converged. Mathew May recovered, and Burkhead punched it in for his second touchdown in 9 seconds.
Nebraska was up 44-17 after Aaron Green's 6-yard TD run with 12:18 left, but within five minutes it was a 13-point game. Polk scored on a 2-yard run, and Price hit Johnson for a 10-yard TD.
Martinez threw for two touchdown passes in the first half, marking the second time in his career he has thrown for more than one TD in a game.
Martinez connected with Kenny Bell for 50 yards on the game's first play from scrimmage before flipping a 3-yarder to fullback Tyler Legate for a touchdown. It was Nebraska's first on an opening series in nine games.
After Ameer Abdullah's 66-yard kick return set up the Huskers at the Washington 34 in the second quarter, Martinez threw a 25-yard TD pass to Green.
Washington copied from Fresno State's game plan a week ago against Nebraska and had Price roll the pocket to the outside. He and Jermaine Kearse teamed up for two touchdown passes, a 38-yarder on the Huskies' first series and a 6-yarder after Abdullah muffed a punt.
Nebraska's injury-riddled offensive line started three players who joined the program as walk-ons in center Mike Caputo and guards Spencer Long and Seung Hoon Choi. Caputo was placed on scholarship before the start of the 2009 season.
The Huskers hadn't started three walk-ons on the offensive line since 1988.
Washington (2-0) at Nebraska (2-0) Sept. 17, 3:30, ABC
Here's The Deal … Well, it's the rubber match in Lincoln. Washington and Nebraska renew acquaintances for the third time in the last 12 months after splitting the last two meetings. The Huskers owned the Huskies during the regular season, rolling 56-21 behind a 533-yard offensive explosion. However, the Huskies delivered one of the biggest surprises of the postseason, holding the Huskers to a season-low in total yards to win the Holiday Bowl, 19-7. It's safe to assume that these two know one another's tendencies.
Nebraska is off to a 2-0 start in its debut season in the Big Ten, but broke
a sweat in order to get by Fresno State, 42-29, on Saturday. It trailed in the second half, finally shaking the Bulldogs with a few minutes left. Washington has had its own tenuous moments as well, winning its first two games by an average of just five points. The good news is that the team played markedly better in Week 2. The Huskies met the challenge of improved competition, beating back a dangerous Hawaii team for their sixth win in-a-row.
Why Washington Might Win: Maybe that Blackshirts defense of Nebraska isn't so scary after all. Despite a preponderance of talent, Fresno State slapped 444 yards on the Huskers, including 169 rushing yards from Robbie Rouse. The Huskies have no shortage of playmakers or confidence after shredding an underrated Hawaii D. Keith Price was sharp in his second game as Jake Locker's successor, throwing for four touchdowns and 315 yards. Behind him is one of the nation's premier backs, Chris Polk, who'll ram into Big Red's front seven much the way Rouse did. Nebraska doesn't have a lot of time to prepare for an offense that's just about to hit its stride.
Why Nebraska Might Win: The Huskies will score. The Huskers will just score more. Nebraska is able to turn on the switch when it's necessary, largely because of the presence of a healthy Taylor Martinez. The versatile quarterback makes the attack go, ranking No. 3 in the country in rushing. The combination of the sophomore and RB Rex Burkhead will be a load between the tackles for a mediocre Washington defense. The Huskers are on the verge of diversifying its attack now that true freshmen Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell and Ameer Abdullah have started to make plays. Abdullah set a school record last weekend with 211 kickoff return yards, capped by a 100-yard burst for the end zone to help build a cushion.
What To Watch Out For: The Huskers defenders probably needed earplugs during practice this week. The coaches were not happy with their play against Fresno State. Nebraska missed tackles and blew coverages, which is uncharacteristic for this group. There's star power at each level, such as DT Jared Crick, DE Cameron Meredith and LB Lavonte David. However, its lockdown corner, Alfonzo Dennard, has been sidelined since August with a pulled leg muscle
and hasn't been practicing this week. His status remains uncertain for Saturday, which means it might be up to sophomores Andrew Green and Ciante Evans to shut down Washington receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar.
What Will Happen: And the winner of the best-of-three playoff
series is … Nebraska. The Huskers heard their
wake-up call a week ago, and will rebound
accordingly. The defense will play much better than
in Week 2, and Martinez will steal the show on
offense. Although Price has a bright future,
Memorial Stadium is a brutal place to be making your
second career road start. His
erratic play will be turned into Nebraska turnovers and points. An early lead will allow the Huskers to take chances on defense, and apply more backfield pressure.
CFN Prediction: Nebraska 37 … Washington 21
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Nebraska -16.5 O/U: 54.5
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