Washington quarterback Jake Locker will get plenty of publicity and credit for the Holiday Bowl as he capped his career with a win. Chris Polk was a workhorse on the ground for the Huskies, as well, carving up the Nebraska defense to the tune of 177 yards and a touchdown. But Washington didn't beat Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl because of either of those two. For the reason the Huskies prevailed, you need not look further than the lines, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The Huskies were absolutely torched on the ground by Nebraska in September. Quarterback Taylor Martinez ran wild, Roy Helu Jr. was all over the place and Nebraska was over 300 yards rushing for the day. In order for the Huskies to have any shot on Thursday night in San Diego, they were going to need to stop the run.
Now that we can look back, check out what Nebraska did in the run game. The Huskers rushed for just 91 yards on the game, never finding the end zone on the ground. Martinez carried the ball 14 times for 23 yards, Helu Jr. carried 11 times for 34 yards and Rex Burkhead led the Huskers with 39 yards on 12 carries. What the Huskies saw was a Nebraska team that was unable to engineer drives through the air when its potent rushing attack was stymied.
The Washington defensive line deserves as much, if not more, praise than the skill players for the Holiday Bowl win. Guys like Alameda Ta'amu, who recovered a fumble early to set the tone, and Hau'oli Jamora were disruptive all night, abusing the Nebraska defensive end along the way. It was Ta'amu breaking through the Nebraska defensive line and forcing a hold in the end zone in the second half, giving the Huskies a safety. The entire defensive line manhandled Nebraska and was the biggest reason Washington came away with an impressive 19-7 victory.
So while much of the media praises Locker and Polk, give a little love to the big boys, Washington fans. Their work is a huge reason the Huskies are heading back to Seattle with a trophy on Friday.