You knew this was coming, right? I mean, if I'm going you five reasons the Huskers are going to lose to Washington, I gotta give you five reasons they're gonna win. It's only fair. Besides, I've been to a few Bruce Springsteen concerts in my life. The first one was the "Born in the USA" tour where thousands of us camped out for tickets and according to the Lincoln Journal Star "wreaked havoc on campus" for a few days. Ah, those were the...
Huskers vs Washington. Right. You know, Springsteen is a master at taking people through highs and lows, from "Born to Run" to the Nebraska album's "Used Cars". You can do that when you care enough about your audience to play for four hours.
You got the low earlier. Here's the high.
Air superiority isn't about offense, it's about ruling the skies. Last week against Idaho, the Huskers ruled the skies with five interceptions, two of them returned for touchdowns. Washington's Jake Locker, NFL prospect. Idaho's Nathan Enderle, NFL prospect. Coincidence? I think not!
Nebraska has one of the best secondaries in the nation. They can cover receivers which translates directly to Jake Locker looking around, looking around, looking around, then POW! He's pummeled by Jared Crick or Baker Steinkuhler.
The converse is true as well - Jake Locker not having the time to look around because the line has been turned loose to rush (notice that sometimes the line isn't immediately charging upfield, so they're not always rushing as hard as possible - don't want to open up those running lanes) and Locker throws an errant pass to Prince Amukamara. Or Alfonzo Dennard. Take your pick (See what I did there? Ha!).
Oh, seriously, Jake Locker is quick. He can scramble well, so he'll be difficult to sack, but he'll still be pressured. Lots of quarterback hurries means less yardage and more opportunities for turnovers.
Nebraska has Adi Kunalic and Alex Henery. Henery was on the pre-season Lou Groza watch list. So was Washington's kicker Erik Folk. If you look at special teams from a purely kicking perspective, the two teams are about even.
However, if you add returns, particularly now that Niles Paul will be back on kick return duty, things tilt heavily towards Nebraska. Some of Paul's biggest plays have been in the punt return area - so much so that Idaho punted away from him last week. Washington will be focusing on getting their punts off after losing senior punter Wlll Mahan, not where the ball is going, so look for a big return from Paul.
The Run Game
I'm not talking about Taylor Martinez' ability to run the zone read, I'm talking about a more powerful version of what we saw last year (as if there might be a weaker version). Nebraska's offensive line is better, has more depth and experience, and has two superb running backs in Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead.
Bottom line - Nebraska has the edge in situations where the details matter - third and short, goal line situations, and clock control. If it appears that the Huskies have a good game plan for turning the game into a shoot-out, the Huskers can turn it into keep-away.
Crowd Noise - NOT!
With 20k-25k Husker fans reported in Seattle, you can take that whole crowd noise issue right out of the equation. In fact, it may turn in Nebraska's favor - if Washington can't support their own program better than that, maybe it'll translate into results on the field.
Youth - Not An Asset
Which would you rather have at quarterback? An experienced senior, or a redshirt freshman making his first road start?
Which would you rather have at guard? An experienced senior, or a true freshman making his first start? That true freshman guard, Washington's Erik Kohler, has to go up against Jared Crick or Baker Steinkuhler.
Washington, still rebuilding from the Tyrone Willingham debacle, is going to be playing a lot of younger players, a lot more than Nebraska (unless we get a big lead, of course). For example, kickoff returners Sean Parker and Kevin Smith are both freshman.