Containing Husker QB Taylor Martinez will be one of the Huskies top priorities on Saturday. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Nobody is picking Washington to beat Nebraska. Las Vegas thinks these guys are over 17 points better than us. We saw the Huskies struggle with Eastern Washington. We saw the Huskies almost let Hawaii off the hook after building a 21 point lead. We all know the Huskies are a young team with a first year quarterback.
Everybody is picking Nebraska because first of all Lincoln is a tough place to play a football game. The Huskers have more experience on the roster than Washington. They also have a returning star quarterback who ate up Washington in Seattle last fall.
Washington's win in the Holiday Bowl has been discounted in many ways. Nebraska simply wasn't up for the game. QB Taylor Martinez wasn't 100% physically or mentally. The Blackshirt defense was missing some key elements because of suspensions. Washington simply wanted it more than Nebraska.
I say BAH HUMBUG and BS to all of this crap. I watched Nebraska battle Fresno State and I wasn't impressed. I saw a team that was very similar to the one that Washington beat in the Holiday Bowl. These guys are still inexplicably soft between the tackles and that is where Chris Polk and Jessie Callier have the potential to run wild.
Fresno State led 17-14 at halftime and extended it to 20-14 early in the third quarter. Nebraska only led the Bulldogs 28-26 in the fourth quarter. Big plays that included a 100 yard kickoff return led the Huskers to an eventual 42-29 win. Does this team sound invincible or incredibly scary to you?
The folks in Vegas and the media in general aren't really aware of who Keith Price is. All they are concerned about is the insurmountable loss of four year starter Jake Locker. The nation asks how can the Huskies be improved without Jake Locker at the helm? If you ask me Mason Foster is a bigger loss...but we will get to that later.
I agree that Jake is a big loss but once you examine the numbers that Price is putting up and compare them with what Locker did last season you realize that Price is going to put up better overall numbers even though he isn't a threat to run for 75-100 yards per game (Locker ran for 83 - with a long of 25 - and one rushing TD in the Holiday Bowl).
Nebraska shut down Locker through the air twice last season. Washington beat them in San Diego with the combination of a strong inside running game and a run stopping defensive front. The Huskies still have all of that going for them heading into this contest.
Keith Price has better tools and targets to work with than Jake had last season. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Michael Hartvigson, and perhaps Kasen Williams could play a big part in this game because attacking the middle of the secondary with bigger more physical targets can be successful against Nebraska.
I really want to see how this squad will react to being underdogs on the road in a hostile environment. Price is one cool customer. He has a game like this under his belt already...he was the starter in Eugene against the Ducks last season. He is going to be ready and he is going to open up a few eyes just like he did last week against Hawaii.
The Huskies haven't beaten a Top Ten team out of conference on the road since 1994. That last Top Ten road win was the famous "Whammy in Miami.'' Miami was ranked No. 5 when Washington led by coach Jim Lambright traveled there and whipped the Hurricanes 38-20.
These teams know each other well and I don't see a blowout happening during this rubber match. If Washington can contain Taylor Martinez like they did during the Holiday they are going to win this game. I am predicting that they do just that and Washington wins 27-21.