Posted by Adam Jacobi
NEBRASKA WON: The 11th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers turned on the jets on offense early and often against Washington, and the end result was a 51-38 victory in front of its home crowd. QB Taylor Martinez hooked up with Kenny Bell on a 50-yard completion (seen at right) on the game's first play from scrimmage, then found Tyler Legate on the next play for a 3-yard touchdown, 34 seconds into the game.
WHY NEBRASKA WON: Washington partisans would loudly proclaim "BECAUSE OF THE REFEREES" to answer that question, and they might have a point (more on this later). The truth is, though, Nebraska won because it was able to grind out over 300 yards on the ground in 55 carries, gaining positive yardage on 52 of those 55 attempts and keeping the sticks moving at ease.
WHEN NEBRASKA WON: It looked like the game was safely in hand when Nebraska opened up the fourth quarter scoring with a 6-yard score by Aaron Green, but it wasn't until a Washington onside kick attempt failed and Nebraska responded with a five-run, 57-yard touchdown drive to make it 51-31 that the game was safely in hand for the Cornhuskers.
WHAT NEBRASKA WON: For Cornhusker fans, this script of struggling with an opponent for most of the first half -- if not longer -- must be getting tiresome, and this is the third straight week where the Huskers have not lived up to their lofty ranking. Still, wins are wins, and wins over teams with the cachet of Washington and Fresno State are likely more helpful for the Huskers' development through the season than if they'd just taken a stroll through Cupcake Alley for all three games thus far (next week's opponent is, um, Wyoming, but that game's at least on the road).
WHAT WASHINGTON LOST: Washington fans will rue the litany of penalties that plagued its special teams efforts, and that inarguably altered the course of today's game. All in all, Washington was called for three kick catch interference penalties -- two on punts -- and Nebraska took advantage of short fields on the three resultant possessions for a total of 17 points. In fact, Washington could have led at the half, as the Huskies punted late in the first half, then recovered the loose ball when the punt glanced off the returner's leg. Improbably, the referees called a phantom interference on the play, and Nebraska used the rest of the half to put together a drive for a field goal. The Huskers would not relinquish the lead.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Not all of Washington's special teams woes came via the penalty. After Rex Burkhead scored on a one-yard dive early in the third quarter, Washington KR Bishop Sankey muffed the return on what should have been a simple touchback, and Sankey and fellow returner Kevin Smith bungled the recovery until Nebraska came up with the ball at the 1. Next snap: Rex Burkhead, one-yard dive, touchdown -- his second in nine seconds.