Holiday Bowl Free Picks: Washington vs. Nebraska 12/30/10

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The Holiday Bowl pits teams from the Big XII and the Pac-10 against each other every single season. This year's set of college football picks on this illustrious battle doesn't quite have the same luster as normal, as the Washington Huskies were a bit of a farce this season, while the Nebraska Cornhuskers don't even feel like a Big XII team anymore since they are moving to the Big Ten next year. Still, this is the only rematch of the bowl season from a regular season duel. The Cornhuskers won the first go around by five TDs up in Seattle, and U-Dub has a ton of work to do if it thinks it is turning the tide in this one.

Holiday Bowl Matchup: Washington Huskies vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Date: Thursday, December 30th, 10:00 ET
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Holiday Bowl Line: Nebraska -13.5
Over/Under 52.5

Huskies Notes: Washington just has to feel fortunate to be playing in a bowl game this year. The only reason that it has moved so far up the bowl ladder is because the Arizona Wildcats slid down the stretch and were shut out in this game last year, and the Holiday Bowl wanted some new blood. With both the Stanford Cardinal and Oregon Ducks going to the BCS, this was the only bowl eligible team remaining to select. QB Jake Locker will be playing in his final game at U-Dub, and it is his first and only bowl appearance as well. He remembers that dreadful 4-for-20 game against the Black Shirts defense when these teams met in the Northwest, as it was a game that probably cost him millions of dollars this year in the NFL Draft. Locker really needs a big performance to leave a good taste in the mouths of the scouts for these NFL teams, as he has never had a 3,000 yard season and with a loss here, will have never led his team to an above .500 record. Do keep an eye on WR Jermaine Kearse and RB Chris Polk. These are the two men that have any chance of helping this offense out, along with Locker. Polk accounted for 1,238 yards and eight scores on the ground, while Kearse led the team in receiving with 56 grabs for 954 yards and 12 trips to the end zone. Washington has the worst scoring discrepancy of teams in the bowl season, getting outscored by 9.1 points per game on average on the campaign. The only positive to look at is that the Huskies did win their final three games of the season both SU and against the college football odds.

Cornhuskers Notes: This isn't quite what Nebraska had in mind this year, especially in its final season in the Big XII. However, going to the Big XII Championship Game for a second straight season and nearly taking down the Oklahoma Sooners provided a nice consolation prize here in San Diego. The key to watch out for is how well the Nebraska running game takes care of the Washington defense. When these teams met the first time around, all three of the Huskers' main runners made it to the 100+ yard barrier. It would be unfair to assume that RB Roy Helu, RB Rex Burkhead, and QB Taylor Martinez are going to be able to put on that type of a show once again, but if they do, they'll all end up as 1,000 yard runners, marking the second time in the history of college football that that would have happened, joining last year's Nevada Wolf Pack. Martinez needs 58 yards on the ground to get there, while Burkhead has to have 88 yards. Should Burkhead score three TDs, this would also be one of just three trios in the country to have three players with ten rushing touchdowns as well. The 'D' for Nebraska stumbled just a tad down the stretch, but there is no doubt that this is the superior unit in this game. The Cornhuskers average allowing just 294.8 yards and 17.2 points per game.

The Final Word: The only question in our minds is whether or not Nebraska really wants to be here in the Holiday Bowl or not. If it does, it is going to smoke the Huskies for a second time this year. If not, that's when the upset can happen. Locker is probably one of the most overrated players in the country though, and he isn't going to be able to get the job done. If U-Dub couldn't do it at home, it isn't going to be able to do it at the Holiday Bowl either.

Holiday Bowl Free Pick: Nebraska -13.5
Holiday Bowl Prediction: Nebraska 44 – Washington 21

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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