Huskies Try to Stop the Home Run
Once upon a time, Nebraska lost a home game: Sept. 21, 1991. Don James’ Washington Huskies lumbered into Lincoln and left with a 36-21 victory.
Nebraska has won 44 consecutive home games since, the fifth-longest streak in major college annals.
Coaches James and Tom Osborne have since retired; James under the cloud of NCAA scrutiny, Osborne under the cloud of a national title poll vote.
Washington returns to Lincoln hoping to provide a streak-busting bookend. The Huskies are good at this, having ended Miami’s 58-game home streak in 1994.
Yet, there are questions as to whether either Nebraska or Washington deserves such a lofty ranking. The Cornhuskers lost 12 starters from last year’s 13-0 squad, eight on defense, and looked vulnerable at times in wins over Louisiana Tech, Alabama Birmingham and California.
Washington won a season-opening thriller at Arizona State, yet struggled at home last week against Brigham Young.
The bad news for Washington: Nebraska is coming off a bye week in which two key starters were able to mend. Quarterback Bobby Newcombe, who partially tore knee ligaments in the opener, returns, as does DeAngelo Evans, a speedy tailback finally recovered from preseason knee injury.
BYU held Washington’s potent offense, led by quarterback Brock Huard, to one touchdown, fewest in Huard’s three years as a starter. BYU defenders later claimed Huard was tipping his plays at the line of scrimmage.
Let’s hope Huard addressed that problem in practice.
Nebraska wrecked Washington’s national title hopes last season with a September win at Seattle.
Can Washington provide the payback?
* Line: Nebraska by 13 1/2.
Rating the TV Games
**** Don’t leave the recliner
*** The yardwork can wait
** OK to flip to fishing show.
* For pro scouts only
** Pittsburgh (1-1) at No. 21 Virginia Tech (3-0), 9 a.m., ESPN2
Pitt nearly played Penn State to a draw last week; Virginia Tech became the first team to beat Miami four straight since Notre Dame in the late ‘70s.
Line: Virginia Tech by 15.
** Northwestern (2-1) at No. 14 Wisconsin (3-0), 9 a.m., ESPN
Wildcats have zero tolerance gambling policy; Badgers have zero tolerance for foods without starch.
Line: Wisconsin by 11.
** Texas Tech (3-0) at Iowa State (2-1), 9:30 a.m, FSW2
Uh, that “other” Ricky Williams is leading the nation in rushing.
Line: Texas Tech by 6 1/2.
*** Purdue (2-1) at No. 23 Notre Dame (1-1), 11:30 a.m., Ch. 4
Fighting Irish seek revenge for last year’s loss to Purdue in West LaFayette, a low point in a low season.
Line: Notre Dame by 7 1/2.
*** Kentucky (3-0) at No. 8 Florida (2-1), 12:30 p.m., Ch. 2
One-time Heisman-winning quarterback Steve Spurrier, Florida, 1966, matches wits with possible 1998 winner, Kentucky’s Tim Couch, in a game that figures to feature a mess of “ball plays.”
Line: Florida by 22.
** No. 22 Alabama (2-0) at Arkansas (2-0), 3 p.m., ESPN2
Arkansas’ shocking win at Tuscaloosa last year turned the tide on Alabama’s 4-7 season.
Line: Alabama by 3.
** Washington State (3-0) at California (2-1), 4 p.m., Ch. 7
Paper-tiger Cougars at last face a team with a pulse in the Bears, who have added a new wrinkle to the program: defense.
Line: Cal by 4 1/2.
* Rice (1-2) at Texas (1-2), 4 p.m, FSW
A tougher-than-it-looks game for Texas and Ricky Williams, as opponents of Rice’s option offense--Northwestern, Purdue and SMU--can attest.
Line: Texas by 6.
** Georgia Tech (1-1) at North Carolina (0-2), 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Looked good on paper, before Georgia Tech frittered away its opener against Boston College and Carolina suffered field-goal losses to Miami (Ohio) and Stanford.
Line: North Carolina by 5.
** Baylor (1-1) at No. 15 Colorado (3-0), 7:30 p.m. FSW
Baylor beat North Carolina State, which beat Florida State, which means “we’re back.”
Line: Colorado by 15 1/2.
* Navy (1-1) at Tulane (2-0), 12:30 FSW. Line: Tulane by 20 1/2.
* Arkansas State (1-2) at Hawaii (0-2), 9 p.m, FSW2. Line: Hawaii by 10.
5 Things To Look For
1. Kevin Faulk chasing history. The Louisiana State tailback needs 621 all-purpose yards to break former Georgia star Herschel Walker’s Southeastern Conference record of 5,749 yards, set from 1980-82. It’s unlikely Faulk will break Walker’s mark this weekend, although LSU is playing Idaho.
2. Prairie View showing up against Langston. Listen, we’re done predicting the end of PV’s NCAA-record losing streak, which stands at 80. But this much must be said: Prairie View Coach Greg Johnson is the former Langston Coach. Prairie View hung tough last year in a 19-10 loss. And Prairie View is so jacked up for this game, it refused to exchange game film with its opponent, or so claims Langston Coach Ted Alexander.
3. A football loss in the state of Washington. Never have the Seattle Seahawks (3-0), Washington Huskies (2-0) and Washington State Cougars (3-0) all been undefeated this late into September. Don’t be shocked if all three end up losers this weekend, though, with Washington at Nebraska, Washington State at California and Seattle at Pittsburgh.
4. North Texas players crying “uncle.” The team nickname is Mean Green, and this year that means the unashamed quest for money. North Texas will earn $1.28 million this year for playing pop-up clowns to Oklahoma, Arizona State, Texas A&M; and Kansas. The Mean Green has been outscored, 101-24, in three losses and figures to get stomped at College Station this weekend against forfeit-angry A&M.; The $1.28 million should just about cover medical expenses.
5. A moment of silence for Florida football. Remember when football in the state was top of the heap? For the first time since 1990, however, neither Florida, Florida State nor Miami is ranked among the nation’s top five schools.