If their fans' focus has turned to sixth-ranked Nebraska this morning, Washington players are trailing them. But that won't be the case...
If their fans’ focus has turned to sixth-ranked Nebraska this morning, Washington players are trailing them. But that won’t be the case very shortly.
“We’ve got 24 hours to enjoy this victory,” explained the Huskies’ freshman running back, Jesse Callier, parroting coach Steve Sarkisian’s mantra that his team should wait a day before hunkering down to get serious about the next opponent.
So the Huskies didn’t have a lot to say about an opponent here next week whose play has pretty much been speaking for itself the past couple of years.
“It’s no secret they’re a talented football team,” said UW quarterback Jake Locker, in the moments after the Huskies’ 41-20 victory Saturday over Syracuse. “We’re going to have to play a very sound football game to compete with them.”
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Nebraska? You could have stirred more conversation among the Huskies about the trade deficit or offshore drilling than you could about the Huskers.
Washington had a provocative history in the ’90s with Nebraska, beginning with the 1991 national-title team that won a watershed 36-21 victory in Lincoln after trailing by double digits in the second half. The year after that, in a night game with a crackling atmosphere at Husky Stadium, Washington, then ranked second, topped the 12th-rated Huskers 29-14.
A few years later, as the Huskies tried to rebuild from the NCAA sanctions of 1993, athletic director Barbara Hedges set up a home-and-home series with the Huskers that rankled coach Jim Lambright, who wanted to defer the return game to Nebraska after UW numbers had grown healthier.
His 1997 team lost to the eventual national champion Huskers 27-14 in Seattle, and then were thrashed 55-7 the next year in Lincoln.
But that was then, this is now. Both programs have undergone seismic changes since they last met 12 years ago.
“We’re definitely going to have to prepare hard for them,” said receiver Jermaine Kearse, the showstopper with three touchdown catches Saturday. “We’ll figure it out.”
Under coach Bo Pelini, Nebraska has quickly re-established itself as a power on defense. The Huskers went 10-4 last year, including a 33-0 whipping of Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.
Saturday, they bedeviled Idaho and quarterback Nate Enderle, picking him off five times and sacking him seven times in a 38-17 victory. Two of the picks were returned for touchdowns.
Offensively, though, it was a day that left Pelini grousing.
“Our attention to detail needs to pick up,” he said, noting 10 penalties for 123 yards. “Our attitude needs to pick up, and our standards need to pick up. We’ll get that fixed. We’ll be fully ready as a football team to go to Seattle. I promise you that.”
So, too, does Washington figure to be ready. But not until maybe Sunday night.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org