Washington is headed to its first bowl game since 2002, facing Nebraska for the second time this season. In a perfect world, the Huskies would be playing Missouri, but the Big 12 gave preferential treatment to the Tigers, and we get a rematch of with a team that handed us a 56-21 loss that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
The important thing is that this team is bowling again and those extra 15 practices will make this a better squad next season. Think of this an extra spring practice with a foe at the end who can give us an accurate reading of how much the team improved over the year.
It is a huge reward for the team, especially the upper classmen who helped pull the team back together for the final three games of the season to become bowl eligible. This is the reason Jake came back for another year and it is gratifying to see the goal accomplished.
The players say they are looking forward to playing Nebraska again. They say that they would like a chance for a little revenge and feel that they are a much better team at this point in comparison to the third game of the season. Locker thinks the team will be a lot looser this time around and he thinks that will help.
What the fans think
Husky fans aren't excited about playing Nebraska for a second time this season. The Huskers dominated both our lines all day from the very first snap in September. The players say they have improved since then and one theory about the earlier game is the Huskies played extremely tight and that was a big reason for the lack of production on offense.
The thinking is this time the Huskies will approach the game like there is nothing to lose, while Nebraska may even be less excited about playing Washington. This type of thinking leads to the premise that round two could actually be a competitive game.
My motto has been any bowl, play anyone...but--admittedly--I was hoping for Missouri. You always want to play someone different in the post season who you usually wouldn't play. That said, I am excited the Huskies are going to a bowl game, even if they are playing Nebraska again. Perhaps this turns into a classic story of redemption.
Getting to the Holiday Bowl
One of the problems with going to a bowl game is it is quite expensive to get there. Flights during the holidays are never cheap. So the best thing to do is get online and get your ticket as early as possible. These were the approximate prices according to Orbitz early this morning.
I have found when going to San Diego you can save a chunk of change by flying into LA and just driving down. It is only two hours down the road.
Seattle to San Diego - $416 to $700
Seattle to LAX - $298 to $429
Seattle to Burbank - $362
Seattle to Las Vegas - $359
I thought the Apple Cup was one of the better games I have seen all season, if strictly from an entertainment standpoint. Every time the Huskies looked like they were going to pull away, the Cougars battled back. Washington should have honestly won this game by three TD's but give the Cougs credit for taking advantage of what was given to them and more importantly what they created on their own.
WSU fans have a lot to look forward to next season. The Cougars are going to be competitive enough to be in the run for a bowl invitation in 2011. Jeff Tuel is a very good quarterback and he and everyone else on that offense are going to come out firing at the beginning of next season.
Word came out late Sunday that WSU Coach Paul Wulff was going to be retained. I think anyone can tell that his team is rapidly improving and ready to break out. There is a lot of serious upside on this roster. WSU opens with a very favorable schedule next fall and it isn't a stretch to say that they could start the season 5-0.
Bowl Selection Madness
Conference expansion had a big hand in bowl selections on Sunday. The Big 12, who lost two members, didn't do anyone any favors when they put together their bowl lineup.
"I don't know what the Big 12 was thinking. I couldn't tell you," Osborne said. "I don't think it would have been any problem for us to play Iowa (Insight bowl) certainly."
1. Oklahoma - Fiesta Bowl - U-Conn (Top Seeded Bowl) Whoever won the Big 12 championship game was guaranteed a cupcake. When Nebraska lost to Oklahoma they lost control of their own destiny and slid to the bottom of the pecking order.
2. Nebraska - Holiday - Washington (Fifth Seeded Bowl) In a normal year the Cornhuskers would have been a lock for either the Cotton , the Insight, or the Alamo. This year they fall to the fifth seeded bowl despite being the conference runner-up. The Huskies and Nebraska will play each other three times in a twelve month period because of that.
3. Oklahoma St - Alamo - Arizona (Third Seeded Bowl) You have a quandary because Nebraska played Arizona in the Holiday Bowl last season. Oklahoma State and Arizona are scheduled to play each other in 2011. Washington and Nebraska played in 2010 and will play again in 2011.
4. Missouri - Insight -Iowa (Fourth Seeded Bowl) No real reason other than spite for Nebraska that Missouri couldn't be playing in San Diego against Washington.
5. Texas A&M - Cotton - LSU (Second Seeded Bowl) This would have been a great spot for Nebraska or Oklahoma State but Texas and Big 12 politics look at things differently.
6. Baylor - Texas - Illinois
7. Kansas St - New Era - Syracuse
8. Texas Tech - Ticket City - Northwestern
Cody Bruns broke his clavicle while returning a punt. Semisi Tokolahi dislocated and broke and ankle. He was flown back to Seattle for emergency surgery. Neither will be available to play in the bowl game. Tokolahi's is possibly career-threatening. We will find out more later today at the press conference.
Final Pac 10 Power Ratings
1. Oregon...The Ducks get to play for all the marbles against Auburn in the national championship game.
2. Stanford...The Cardinal are headed for the Orange Bowl where they will face Virginia Tech.
3. Washington...In a year of parity in the middle of the conference the Huskies floated toward the top and to a bowl game on the back of a three game winning streak that included two road wins.
3. Arizona State...Are they really the best 6-6 team in the country? Most think they will be title contenders in 2011.
4. Arizona...Four straight losses to close the season have the Wildcats limping into a bowl. We know this is a good team but they haven't been able to pull it out in the fourth lately.
6. USC...Win over UCLA erases a bit of the sting of losing to a sub par Irish team at home. The Trojans would have been bowl eligible if they were not on probation.
7. Oregon State...This was a year of rebuilding not reloading for the Beavers. When James Rodgers went down the writing was on the wall for the Beavers. That loss to WSU was extremely costly and ended the Beav bowl streak.
8. California...The Bears are a disappointment. A team with this much talent should be bowling. Expectation though weren't high at the start of the season and an injury at QB sealed that doom.
9. Washington State...Are they really the best 2-10 team in the country? I think they would whip Cal and UCLA if they played them right now. Cougs are a good bet to start the season 5-0 in 2011.
10. UCLA...Rick will get one more season the make it right but Norm Chow and Charlie Bullough will be sacrificed at the altar. Injuries and attrition were the biggest problems for this team.