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Nebraska at Washington Game Preview

2010 Getty Images

When Washington has the ball:

If you listen to what Husker fans are saying, the way to exploit Nebraska's Peso defense is to attack it with a power running game. Washington has a great running back in Chris Polk, but the Husky running game has been stoppable in obvious running situations.

The offensive line needs to step it up against Nebraska. Not only will they have to run block better, they are going to have to deal with a team that takes pride in sacking the opposing QB. Look for Jake to use a quick passing game to keep the Big Red rush at bay. Jake Locker should have more opportunities to run against Nebraska. Expect the Huskers to concentrate more on his arm than his legs this weekend.

CB Prince Amukamara draws the assignment of covering Husky receiver Jermaine Kearse in one of the better one on one match-ups of the season. Washington receiving corps need to win this battle for the Huskies to emerge victorious on Saturday.

When Nebraska has the ball:

Bo Pellini is a smart coach and has Nebraska playing great defense, as well as developing the type of offense to take advantage of the type of talent the Cornhuskers are recruiting. At first glance, they appear similar to Oregon, meaning plenty of zone option plays where the QB can run it or hand it off.

RS Freshman QB Taylor Martinez picked up 157 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against Idaho last week and has back-to-back 100 yard games to start the 2010 season. This kid is almost as fast as Jake Locker, but he is still raw in the passing game. His main weapon is deception; just like when playing Oregon, it is very tough to determine who is actually carrying the ball in the running game.

This will be Martinez's first start against a quality opponent. It will also be his first road game, so he will have to make the adjustment of making calls in noisy Husky Stadium. Nebraska was turnover and penalty prone against the Idaho last Saturday, so the noise could create some opportunity for the Husky defense.

Nebraska is solid at running back. Roy Helu picked up 109 yards and a touchdown against the Vandals. Rex Burkhead also chipped in 77 yards, in addition to three catches.The Huskers will have a 3-1 run to pass ratio so we are going to see a lot of these two backs.

The key to beating Nebraska is to get ahead early, forcing them to win the game with Martinez's arm. Washington needs to force turnovers and the crowd needs to help rattle Martinez, taking him out of his comfort zone.

Special Teams:

Washington was a little better last week, but they must play error-free this week in order to win this piece of the game. Expect Nebraska to go after the punter at every opportunity; Kiel Rasp did a good job last week, but he needs to get the kick off quicker and get the trajectory of the punt higher.


Bo Pellini can put on his game face and use coach-speak as much as he sees fit, but in a tight game the crowd noise will undoubtably be a factor on Saturday. The Nebraska offense is not going to be able to hear much out on the field, forcing them into making mistakes, of which Washington must take advantage.

Position Matchups:

Quarterback: Washington

Running Backs: Even

Receivers: Washington

Offensive Line:  Nebraska

Defensive Line: Nebraska

Linebackers: Even

Defensive Backs: Nebraska

Special Teams : Even

Steve Sarkisian quote:

"I think this is probably a top 5 well coached team in America. I have the utmost respect for Bo Pelini and his staff and what they do in all three phases. Defensively, this is as sound a defense as I have seen in 10 years playing against really good teams. They are extremely sound, they play together, they play hard, they are all over you in the run game, they are all over you in routes. They do an excellent job of route reading, seeing which routes are coming, and jumping those routes, that's why they create so many turnovers."

Bo Pellini quote:

On a question of how Washington coaches have said the NU offense appears similar to that of Pac-10 rival Oregon: "We want to be real multiple in what we do and create as many problems as we can for a defense. It wasn’t like we sat and looked at Oregon and said we want to be Oregon. There’s just maybe some aspects of it where it probably does look like Oregon."

Bulletin Board Material:

Dejon Gomes -"We know his potential and what they're rating him, but there's nothing else to really talk about.  He's one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. We know that. But we just have to go out there and play our style of defense. I definitely love competition. We're not going to step down to anybody. We're not putting anyone on a pedestal, but at the same time, he is a really good quarterback. As long as we handle our responsibilities, we don't have to worry too much about him."

DC Carl Pellini - "We're going to see good quarterbacks every week," he said. "I don't rank them. I just know that we're going to keep facing quality quarterbacks and we've got to be prepared to respond."

"It's Nebraska. It's big-time football," Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt said of the Cornhuskers, who beat Idaho 38-17 Saturday behind five interceptions - two of which they returned for touchdowns. "Thank God we are playing them at home. "

Jake Locker - "Nebraska has always had a reputation as a great football team, a great defense. When I was younger they were really good running football team offensively, kind of smash-mouth football. I think that they have kind of gone back to that this year. They are a really, really good football team. Discipline, well-coached, fast, try to capitalize on your mistakes, so it will be important that we try to minimize our mistakes and play as fast and as physical as they do."


The Huskies won four of the five games in which they forced two or more turnovers in 2009. They recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass against Syracuse.

Washington was 1-5 in 2009 when it forced fewer than two takeaways.

The Huskers and the Huskies meet this week for the eighth time with the series tied at three wins, three losses and one tie for each side.

The first night game in Husky Stadium history came in 1992, when Washington beat the Huskers 29-14.

Nebraska’s last visit to Seattle was in 1997, when it beat the Huskies 27-14 early in what would be an undefeated, national championship season.

Washington is 21-20-2 all-time vs. the current makeup of the Big 12 Conference.

The Huskies have won five of their last six games at home.

Nebraska ran for 360 yards against Idaho. The Huskers rank third nationally at 324.5 yards per game.