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September 17, 2010 @ 6:55 pm
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College Football Smackdown 9/18

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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Former Nebraska middle linebacker Barrett Ruud and former Washington tight end Jerramy Stevens take part in this week's College Football Smackdown as the 'Huskers battle the Huskies in a big, non-conference clash.
It’ Saturday, which means another College Football Smackdown on PewterReport.com, pitting two Tampa Bay Buccaneers against each other in a war of words as their respective universities battle in high profile college football match-ups or rivalry games. This week’s College Football Smackdown features Nebraska alum Barrett Ruud and former Washington star Jerramy Stevens as the No. 8 Cornhuskers (2-0) travel to Seattle to face the Huskies (1-1).

These two teams are tied with a record of 3-3-1, but Nebraska won the last meeting, 55-7, back in 1998. After a brief fling with the West Coast offense under Bill Callahan, the Cornhuskers have returned to their roots of option football under Bo Pelini, although this is not Tom Osbourne’s offense of yesteryear even though Big Red has the third-ranked running game in the country, averaging 324 yards per game.

But don’t tell that to freshman sensation quarterback Taylor Martinez, who looks like second coming of Eric Crouch and Scott Frost. Martinez has rushed for 284 yards and five touchdowns on 21 carries (13.5 avg.) and has completed 21-of-32 passes (65.6 percent) for 242 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.

Washington counters with its own dual threat quarterback in Heisman hopeful Jake Locker, who is rated as a first-round pick by some NFL scouts (although not by Pewter Report). In his Huskies career, Locker has thrown for nearly 6,000 yards and 41 touchdowns and rushed for 1,595 yards and 24 scores. This year, Locker is off to a hot start, completing 42-of-70 passes (60 percent) for 555 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has one rushing touchdown.

Nebraska is fifth in the nation in sacks with eight (defensive linemen Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler each have 2.5), and is third in the nation with six interceptions (P.J. Smith has two and cornerback Prince Amukamara is rated as a first-round draft pick). The Cornhuskers have the defense, the exciting frosh quarterback and a number 8 ranking working for them, while U-Dub has Locker and the hometown crowd on its side.

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET at Huskies Stadium in Seattle, Wa. and will be regionally televised on ABC.

Which school will prevail? Let’s go to the Tampa Bay locker room to find out from … two mild-mannered Buccaneers.

JERRAMY STEVENS: “We’re at our house – that’s enough of a reason to win this game. We’ve got some momentum going with the win over Syracuse last week. Man, I think we’re going to get them with the trip out west. Even coming from the Midwest, heading out to the West Coast is a big deal. Huskies Stadium has some energy to it again now that our program is getting turned around.”

BARRETT RUUD: “What I’m intrigued to see is one of the best pass defenses in the country matching up against Jake Locker, a Heisman candidate and a possible first-round pick. That’s what I want to see. I think we’ll rise up to the challenge.”

JERRAMY STEVENS: “Jake Locker is an incredible athlete. I see a great leader. He’s obviously the big name and the guy they rally around, but Washington is starting to get some guys around him now, which is letting him do his thing and play quarterback. That’s only going to help his team and his draft stock. Unfortunately for Jake, I don’t think he’s had a lot of talent around him so he has stood out in that regards that he has gotten that recognition. They are starting to put some pieces around him, but he is still that guy out there and that’s a lot of hype to live up to. They are talking about Heisman hype for a team that only won a couple games last year. He’s on TV enough to get the shot. A win over Nebraska would legitimize his chances.”

BARRETT RUUD: “Nebraska has a young quarterback in Taylor Martinez, who has played really well the first two games, but hasn’t been tested yet. I’m really interested in this game. I’ve got a lot of confidence in my guys and I’m ready to see them go on the road and play against better competition than what we’ve played in the first two games.”

JERRAMY STEVENS: “It got really, really hard to recruit for a while. When you have some bad years in a row and it’s hard to get some really good guys on defense in there. They are starting to get those guys in there now on defense. There aren’t any household names yet, but they are playing good team defense. You’ll start hearing about these guys soon enough. I’ve got to represent us playing at the Dub. Of course we’ll win. Now if the game were at Nebraska it would be a tough, tough environment to play in. But them coming to the Dub? I feel really good about our shot.”

BARRETT RUUD: “There is a big misconception about the Tom Osbourne days. I say Osbourne is the first coach to run the wildcat because he had Tommie Frazier and Scott Frost in the shotgun running the ball. Even though they were quarterbacks, they were running quarterbacks. We have another really fast running quarterback in Martinez. We don’t have as physical of an offensive line as we have had in the past, but we do have two really good running backs. It’s kind of the older Nebraska offense that I’ve grown up with.”

JERRAMY STEVENS: “I haven’t seen Nebraska play this year, so I don’t want to say too much about the Big 12. The Big 12 and Big 10 … they’ve always been out there in middle of the country. Who cares! The Pac-10 and the Rose Bowl, that’s what I grew up dreaming about. Teams from the Big 12 and the Big 10 were teams we just ended up playing at some point.”

BARRETT RUUD: “I don’t know if they are going to handle us, but it does give a team like Washington confidence when it beats USC like it did last year at home, especially if you went 1-11 or 0-12 the year before or whatever they were. It solidifies the message the new coach is telling you. They beat USC last year so they think they can beat anybody. That’s their mindset. The good thing is that Nebraska is coming in for their first big test, but I know our guys are ready to play. They’ve played in a lot of loud environments. I know Huskies Stadium is loud, but I’m confident.”

JERRAMY STEVENS: “Head coach Steve Sarkisian has got the players excited about playing football again and got them feeling like they are playing at a big-time, Pac-10 program. In college, it’s so much about the momentum and the feel that a team has. It was gone for a while, but the Huskies have it back now.”

BARRETT RUUD: “The Blackshirts defense is back under Bo Pelini. They played great last year and they’ve played great the first two games this year. I expect nothing but greatness from them. They are really starting to rebuild the tradition at Nebraska on defense and they will continue that this weekend at Washington. Our defensive line at Nebraska is quick. We like to rush four and drop seven in coverage. Defensive tackle Jared Crick was overshadowed by Ndamukong Suh but he almost had as good of a year as Suh did last season. I think he had 10.5 sacks last year and is off to a good start this year. He’s playing well and Prince Amukamura is a first-round prospect at cornerback.”

JERRAMY STEVENS: “When you are trying to turn a program around every game is a big game, especially a non-conference game like the one against Nebraska. You know that it is getting national attention. Being up in Seattle in the northwest corner of the country, you don’t get a lot of national recognition. So this is a game where we really have to step up and win it. I’m sure Sarkisian will have the boys stepping up this week and getting a big win at the Dub.”

BARRETT RUUD: “I like Nebraska 20, Washington 10.”

THE VERDICT: Wow. I think there is better trash talk at a high school football game than between these two. Let’s see. Ruud brought better facts to the table, but Stevens definitely brought more swagger. Yet Ruud was more confident and even threw out a scoreboard prediction. The fact that Ruud mentioned Washington’s epic win over USC last year and Stevens didn’t even mention the game that Huskies have beaten their chest about for the last 12 months makes me rule in favor of Ruud.

THE PREDICTION: This game will be about the play of both quarterbacks and how each team’s defense can slow them down or stop them. Washington’s Jake Locker gets a slim edge in the experience category and in name recognition, but the guess here is that come Saturday night, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez will be a household name. The Cornhuskers have the better defense led by DT Jared Crick and should slip past Washington by less than 10 points to go to 3-0 and preserve their top 10 ranking.

Who do you think made the best case in the College Football Smackdown, Ruud or Stevens? Which team do you think will win? Sound off in our article comments section below.

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Last modified on Friday, 24 September 2010 11:29
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