Jake Locker, who would play his final game as a Husky against a Nebraska team who punished his own 56-21 over 3 months ago, said it well:
“It’s a great opportunity to prove that you weren’t your best that first time.”
In all honesty, Washington, and Locker for that matter, still weren’t at their best this time around when the Huskies beat Nebraska 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl, but they were good enough to win.
For a team who had been the laughing stock of the Pac-10/BCS’ “Big Six”, that’s all that mattered.
When it came down to it, Washington didn’t beat themselves. The Huskies’ offense committed zero turnovers and had only 3 penalties for 30 yards. Compare that to Nebraska’s 2 turnovers and 12 penalties for over 100 yards.
Locker still showed signs of struggle from his 4-of-20, 71-yard performance against Nebraska back in September; he went 5-of-16 for 51 yards earlier tonight.
But with running back Chris Polk rumbling for 177 yards and a score, that hardly made a difference.
Washington just looked and played like they were excited to be there. Nebraska? Not as much.
And, really, who could blame them? The Huskers had a chance to nab a BCS bid/stick it to Dan Beebe and the entire state of Texas as they departed for the Big Ten. Instead, they g0t matched up with a team they utterly destroyed earlier in the season.
Still, I don’t even think Nebraska imagined ending the season like that.
But you have to feel good for Locker, who spurned the chance at NFL money and returned to school for his senior year despite never having had a winning season while at Washington. Not only did Locker get that winning season, but he helped the Huskies secure their first bowl win in nearly a decade.
Locker and Washington may not have played their best, but they played their hardest, and it worked out for them this time around.