BY Seth Kolloen 07:23AM 12/31/2010

December 31, 2010: Winners!

UW’s 47-point turnaround against Nebraska might not have been a leap forward, but it sure was a step forward.

Amazing, unexpected, fantastic. Or, if you are more numbers-minded: The Huskies achieved a 47-point turnaround from September in winning their Holiday Bowl rematch vs. Nebraska 19-7. How’d they do it? Chris Polk’s legs, Jake Locker’s game management, and stellar defensive line play from Alameda Ta’amu and true freshman Hau’oli Jamora.

What does this mean for the program? Let’s hold off on the “Dawgs are back” talk, which we’ve been hearing sporadically since the day Tyrone Willingham was hired. We’ll get a good clue about the state of the program on September 17, 2011, the Huskies’ re-rematch against Nebraska, at Lincoln. Will Ta’amu and Jamora bring the hurt again? Or was this win a product of the Cornhuskers’ disinterest? Only after that game can we tell if this win truly was a leap forward. It sure is a step forward, though.

Huskies go for SoCal sweep this afternoon: Don’t miss the Washington/UCLA hoops game at 1 p.m. today. Like USC, the Bruins have a talented front line. But the Bruins’ front line isn’t quite as athletic as USC’s, nor do they have a shooter like USC’s Vucevic. The Dawgs should be able to get back to their traditional transition attack against a turnover-prone Bruins’ backcourt. As you can tell, I like UW to win here, but history tempers my enthusiasm. Washington is 3-44 all-time at Pauley Pavilion.

What they’re saying…

“HOW BOUT ‘DEM DAWGS, BABY!” — Steve Sarkisian

“We pride ourselves on being a physical football team, and we played a physical football game tonight.” — Sarkisian

“‘Never Pass The Ball.’ Best strategy for UW in years.” — @FrankYoshida

“Big time congrats to @CoachSark and the uw huskies! Ending the season as champions!” — Pete Carroll, still not understanding the intricacies of the BCS, via Twitter

“The biggest difference was we were ready to play. It was our best game as a defense.” — Nick Holt

“This is the experience I came back for.” — Jake Locker

More on the Holiday Bowl…

How about Nick Holt?!? Most overpaid assistant coach in America? Not last night he wasn’t.

Some UW frat boys burned couches and a Christmas tree on Greek Row in celebration.

Jake Locker was never better. Yeah, I know, 5/16 for 56 yards, but hear me out. When Locker had open receivers — and it was very rare — he hit them. When he didn’t, he threw the ball away or ran for positive yardage. Locker’s game management allowed his teammates to win the game.

The deal with Locker’s scary-looking injury was this: He was hit in a way that pushed his helmet over his eyes, so, for a second, he thought he’d gone blind. Then trainers explained it was his helmet, and he was okay after that.

If you want to watch the game again, or missed it, ESPN3.com has the replay.

It’s the Dawgs first bowl win since the 2001 Rose Bowl, and they finish at 7-6 — their first winning season since 2002.

In other news…

Mariners closer and possible trading chip David Aardsma needs surgery to repair a torn hip labrum. The M’s say Aardsma will be able to pitch by the start of Spring Training, and be ready by opening day, but the real blow is that they now lost probably their best chance at a pre-spring offensive upgrade — trading Aardsma for a hitter.

Ugly news from Portland. Brandon Roy is out indefinitely with pain in his “knees.” Surgery is possible, sitting out the year is possible. After two weeks off, Roy said he’d felt no improvement.

Former Sounder Freddie Ljungberg signed with Scotland’s Celtic. This is a bit of a bummer, since if Ljungberg had re-signed with Chicago, the Sounders would’ve gotten the Fire’s first round pick (9th overall). in the MLS Draft, which is coming up on January 13. Since Ljungberg signed elsewhere, the Sounders get the Fire’s second round pick, 27th overall. Still, not a bad haul for a guy who’s departure made the team better. And isn’t it cool that legit European teams want Sounders’ cast-offs?

Today in SPNW…

Todd Dybas on the Huskies’ game-changing d-line.

Dybas on this being Locker’s last game as a Husky.

John Hickey on who the Mariners might trade to get offense.

Charlie Whitehurst and Jeremy Bates tell Doug Farrar that a week of practicing with the first-team offense will help Whitehurst win Sunday.

November 2010 in Seattle sports.

Today’s action…

NCAA Hoops: #11 Kentucky @ #22 Louisville, 9 a.m. (CBS-7)
Meineke Bowl: Clemson vs. South Florida, 9 a.m. (ESPN)
Sun Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Miami, 11 a.m. (CBS-7)
Liberty Bowl: Georgia vs. UCF, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NCAA Hoops: Huskies @ UCLA, 1 p.m. (FSN)
NCAA Hoops: Washington St. @ USC, 3 p.m. (FSN)
Chick-fil-A Bowl: South Carolina vs. Florida St., 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NCAA Hoops: Oklahoma St. @ Gonzaga, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Yo! If you have a tip or a comment, email me at sethkolloen@sportspressnw.com or message me on Twitter, @SethKolloen. Cool? Thanks!


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