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Washington upsets Nebraska in dull, boring, unimpressive Holiday Bowl, 19-7
San Diego - In a dull, boring post-season game, the Washington Huskies extracted revenge for their previous 56-21 loss to Nebraska back in September with a 19-7 win on December 30 at Qualcomm Stadium. Normally energetic Bo Pellini, Head Coach of the Huskers (10-4) , spent the entire night on the sidelines with his arms folded looking more like a casual observer as opposed to being the Head Coach. His Huskers performed the way he looked - like they didn't really care to be there. Soph RB Chris Polk impressed and got the job done on offense for Washington (7-6) when called on gaining 177 yards and scoring an early TD. No matter what you hear about QB Jake locker from the media, he's over-hyped. He's horrible! Word to the NFL, don't even bother. If Mel Kiper, Jr. thinks he's the second best QB in the draft, the pros cans start looking at FCS and D-3 QBs because I saw a few that are better than him already at that level this season. He's as slow as molasses and he's got no accuracy. At one point, the U of W passing attack was 1 for 8 in the second half. Locker didn't throw the completion, he caught it on an option pass on his team's first play from scrimmage. If a pro team is looking for a QB at draft time, skip over him. It would be a waste of a pick. I think the rest of Kiper's media colleagues are trying to help him save face for his previous assessments. To make Mel look good, they're trying to sucker somebody into thinking he's worth picking. If a team wants to take a chance, think free agent.
This game was over early. The Huskers fumbled on their first possession and Alameda Ta'amu recovered at the NU 21. Polk scored on a three-yard run and Eric Folk converted for the PAT and a 7-0 lead. Folk scored again before the period ended with a 29-yard FG for a 10-0 Husky lead. Nebraska mustered its only scoring drive of the game to begin the second quarter with a 62-yard drive when Taylor Martinez threw to TE Kyler Reed for a 15-yard TD pass. The "explosive" triumvirate of Martinez, Rex Burkhead, and Roy Helu "amassed" a total of 91 rushing yards after ranking ninth in the nation with 259.6 ypg the entire season. Tell me the Huskers were trying.
In the third period, as I asked GGA Eric Koreivo what Mel Kiper, Jr. saw in Jake Locker, we watched him amble into the end zone on a 23-yard TD "amble". Lucky for him, his line was blocking. The Nebraska O-line allowed at least three sacks in third down passing situations. On 12 occasions, the Huskers were assessed 102 yard in penalties, and Washington was awarded a safety due to a holding call in the end zone in the fourth quarter to finalize the 19-7 loss. Pellini watched with his arms folded throughout. Based on the efforts of Big Ten teams on New Year's Day, it looks like the Huskers are ready to join them next season. It was a poor excuse for a bowl game. I blame the NCAA and ESPN. There are too many bowls games to begin with. Contracts have gotten out of hand ( Ex: #6 Conf team vs. #3 conference team, etc), mismatches galore, records don't matter, etc, etc. They've really watered down a great tradition for the benefit of almighty dollars going into some body's pockets. I'll get more into this at my next Salvo.
Extra points: This was our first time ever traveling to Phoenix and then on to San Diego from there. It looks like a straight shot on the map, but what a treacherous ride on the way to San Diego. After stopping for a late lunch at Applebee's in Yuma, Arizona (Yuma High School's athletic teams are know as the Criminals. "My son is proud to be a Criminal!"), night started to fall. It was pitch black as we started struggling uphill in a 4-cylinder Nissan Versa. Fog, rain, and high winds up and down steep unseen hills lasted for miles. Signs warned "High Winds for the next 65 miles." GGA Eric slept. For yours truly it was white knuckler! Twice we had to go through US Customs check points along Interstate 8 in California as the highway ran parallel to the Mexican border. Agents had dogs sniffing trunks. "Sir, are you a US citizen?" Yes. "Where were you born?" Hackensack, NJ. "What the heck are you doing out here?" Heading to a bowl game! We made it to Chula Vista in a little over six hours.
We threw a baseball in Ocean Beach and visited the San Diego Pier nearby. To get there, we strolled past the dog beach being careful where we stepped. Big Waves! We watched a couple of surfers in wet suits get cold feet. They never ventured into the surf while we were there. We visited with our San Diego State fan friend Tom Ables at his office at Venture to talk football and pick up our tickets. He showed us some of his SD State memorabilia including his photo with the late Don Coryell and his wife who Tom knew as good friends. He talks about what a nice guy Don Coryell was. That night we stayed at the Hilton in the gas lamp district of SD. It was a great hotel and a great move. For $5/ticket, we took a special trolley right to Qualcomm for the game. Talked to people from Boston who were out for the Holiday and the Rose Bowl.
Tom had gotten us great seats. I think it's where he usually sits for his Aztec games. I remember at this year's Lafayette-Lehigh game in Easton, PA, halftime was void of any entertainment though Lehigh's marching band played before and during the game. So what big HS marching band performs for the opening ceremonies at Qualcomm - huge HS band from Easton, PA. They were very good. Maybe Lafayette can invite them to perform at the next Lehigh game they host.
The US Navy sky-diving team, The Leap Frogs, hit their marks to get the crowd going before the game. Sailors and Marines then stretched the huge American flag across the entire field to honor America before the game. A young girl named Megan Clark sang "The Star Spangled Banner" beautifully. ESPN's Erin Andrews prepped for work along the sideline before the game The Sycuan Indian Tribe, owners of Casinos in California, and Bridgepoint Education were recognized as the prominent sponsors of the game. Everything was going great, and then regretfully, a dull game showed up on the field.
Nebraska and Washington bands performed at the half along with the usual HS bands and dancing girls. At the end a huge fireworks display was given. Smoke on the field was still clearing several minutes into play.
The night got colder as the game went on. It was a relief to get back on the heated trolley to go back after the game. It was packed but we got on first. We sat with some disappointed Nebraska fans who were somewhat ashamed of their team's performance. They admitted that not many were excited to be there after having played in the same bowl last year and against a team they had already defeated. They agreed with me on my points regarding how the bowl system is really starting to get screwed up.
Eric and I visited the USS Midway museum in San Diego and did some more throwing in Ocean Beach before having lunch and heading back to Phoenix. Driving in daylight, I got to appreciate the scenery I missed in the dark on the way out. Eric slept. Mountains varied on color, vegetation, shape, types of rock, and formations, but most of all of them were huge. It turned out to be a more pleasant drive back. The Border Patrol at Arizona's check point played with their German Shepard on New Year's Eve. It was in the 40s when we got to our hotel in Phoenix. The clerk on duty was big Arizona State fan. He provided directions to Buffalo Wild Wings, University of Phoenix Stadium and a few other places as our GPS stopped getting a signal near Southwest Community College in Chula Vista. We caught bowl highlights at the Double Tree where we stayed. I had a beer and watched "Sparta 300" to ring in the New Year. Eric watched something in the other room of the suite and slept.