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Dawgs Looking Forward To Saturday's Big Game
Release: 09/17/2010
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Sept. 17, 2010

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By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing

SEATTLE - Linebacker Mason Foster looked and sounded as though an unknowing ball carrier had just wondered into his path - without a lead blocker.

That's how mammoth an opportunity is awaiting him and his resurgent Washington Huskies (1-1) on Saturday, when eighth-ranked Nebraska visits Husky Stadium at 12:30 p.m.

"I'm excited, man. I mean, I can't wait. It's going to be rockin'," the senior masher on an improving Huskies defense said.

His eyes were as wide as the exposure he'll be getting.

It's an ABC national broadcast, including KOMO channel 4 in Seattle, along with the broadcast on the ISP Sports/Huskies Radio Network, the live in-game chat and gametracker on gohuskies.com and live streaming video on espn3.com. And a crowd of 72,000-plus will pack Husky Stadium, likely drizzles and all.

This opportunity isn't just knocking. It is pounding down Washington's door.

"I mean, you grow up watching Nebraska. I can't wait," Foster said, again. "On national television - these are the kind of games you dream about as a kid."

Foster grew up in Seaside, Calif. They will be watching him there on ABC. They will be watching in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Denver and Los Angeles, too. Over 50 percent of the nation will get the now-usual Week 3 showdown on the Huskies' schedule, over free network air.

So, yes, this showcase is a prime chance for Washington to show off the progress of its revival, and quarterback Jake Locker's senior season. The Huskies will have a bye week before entering the Pac-10 schedule on Oct. 2 at USC.

"I just want to see them maximize an opportunity," coach Steve Sarkisian said of his Dawgs, using that word again.

He'd also like to see the essence of the Northwest pour down, to perhaps slow a Cornhuskers offense that is rolling behind redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez. The forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of showers.

Sarkisian wouldn't mind.

"We always like it a little gray, a little misty. And I wouldn't even mind some wind on Saturday. That's the way we like to play," Sarkisian said. "I think it'll be a great atmosphere.

"We're excited about the opportunity. I'm sure Nebraska is, too. It should be fun."

Winning home games is always a key for the success of all teams. The Huskies are hoping the inherent Husky Stadium advantage can serve as a boost.

"I believe every opportunity we get we have a great opportunity in Husky Stadium," Sarkisian said after Thursday's practice. "This is a tremendous home field advantage for us. Our fans do a great job supporting us, and we'll give it our best shot Saturday."

Did we mention this is a great opportunity for UW?

"I think they are excited about the opportunity to play at home," Sarkisian said of his players. "For the seniors, their time is already dwindling down here at Husky Stadium.

"We're just trying to embrace and maximize and embrace the opportunities that are here. This is another one. It's a great college football matchup. But I think bigger than that is just the opportunity to play here."

Here, there or anywhere, the Cornhuskers are a handful.

Martinez has romped for 284 yards and five touchdowns rushing in Nebraska's first two wins. Slowing him in his first road start is Washington's key to getting a signature win on par or beyond last September's home victory over then-No. 3 USC.

Locker, emerging star receiver Jermaine Kearse and the Huskies' offense must handle a Nebraska secondary that is big, quick and has had its share of success already this season. The Cornhuskers had five interceptions in last week's 38-17 win over Idaho.

They sometimes use seven defensive backs behind a stout front. Another big rushing day from Chris Polk, who gained 117 yards last week against Syracuse, would be huge for the Huskies.

Kearse, third in the nation in yards receiving per game following a career day last week, gets his toughest assignment yet. At 6-1, 205, Nebraska senior cornerback Prince Amukamara can match Kearse's 6-2 size and is frequently mentioned among the best in the nation at his position.

"This is as sound a defense as I have seen in 10 years playing against really good teams," said Sarkisian, who's seen plenty in his eight prior seasons as an offensive coach in the Pac-10.

But as Sarkisian has said, Washington won't be awed. The Huskies have been on such a grand, national stage plenty recently.

"It's kind of interesting. The three years I've been here, our third game of the year has been against a highly-ranked opponent," said Locker, who is making his 31st career start and needs 462 yards passing to surpass Brock Huard for second place on UW's all-time list. "Last year we had SC. My redshirt freshman year we had Ohio State here. And now we have Nebraska coming in. I think we had Oklahoma my sophomore year.

"It's exciting, especially when you get a chance to play them at home in Husky Stadium. It's something we're looking forward to."

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