Rick Neuheisel has a 3-0 record against Washington as a football coach. He beat UW once at Colorado and has been victorious the past two years at UCLA.
Rick knows how to win football games and one team he would love to beat again would be the Washington Huskies. Who can ever forget the pathetic parade he took around the field with his wife after he returned to Montlake to beat Ty Willingham's uninspired last squad? You would have thought the Bruins had just won the Rose Bowl by the way he reacted in victory.
Rick publicly states he has no animosity toward Washington. He enjoyed his time here and believes it's a special place. He still has many good friends in the area whom he visits each summer. You may not like much about Neuheisel, but he won at Washington and will do the same at UCLA.
Have no doubt this game matters more than perhaps any game on the schedule for Rick Neuheisel. There is nothing he would rather do than take his players for a dance on the "W" after Thursday night's game.
Thursday's game features two squads in similar places. The Bruins need to win two of their final three games to qualify for a bowl game and Washington appears very beatable to them. The Huskies need three straight victories to go bowling and UCLA appears to be the easiest of those hurdles.
Neuheisel isn't concerned about the weather, expected to be in the 40's with rain. "Expect it to rain, expect it to be cold, and expect the wind to blow." The Bruins take pride in being a team who performs well in bad weather.
Neuheisel says he will run the ball more if the rain starts to come down. The Bruins, who aren't a great passing team, rely on the Pistol to fuel their running game. UCLA has the third-ranked rushing offense in the Pac 10 in this season; stop the run and you stop the Bruins.
Jake Locker was declared fit to start the game on Tuesday by the medical staff. Neuheisel was hardly surprised, stating, "The man is playing, I’m telling you. It’s just the way it is." While possessing a healthy respect for Locker, Neuheisel isn't shaking in his boots after shutting him down at the Rose Bowl last year.
This year things should be different. The Huskies will be fired up out of their minds because it is the final home game for the seniors, including Jake. The game is nationally televised and the Huskies will unveil their black-out uniforms.
Most importantly the team will be about as healthy as they were going into the Oregon State game because of the bye week. Jake has the potential to finish his Husky career with a night to remember and send Rick Neuheisel back to LA with his first loss to Washington.