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BN Gameday Roundup: "Dying To Win"

Let's start with CRN's perspective to set up this game day:

"Our guys are dying to win," Neuheisel said. "A week or so ago I talked about you can't get in that comfort zone or that protective cocoon of, `I'm not going to let this pain get to me. It's OK. I'm just going to keep doing my best.' We have to let it go and believe that everything is going to go exactly as we hoped. But you have to risk it before you can achieve it. You can't just go in there, and (think), `It'll be OK if it doesn't go well."'

But even in the midst of such a skid, Neuheisel still sees signs. Then again, the ever-optimistic Neuheisel could find a single ray of sunshine on a rainy day.

"There's nothing magic about the plan," he said. "The magic is in the belief. Therein lies why patience is such a virtue. You just have to believe we're going in the right direction. I think there are signs.  

"The quarterback had his best week of practice. Guys are getting healthier. Reggie Carter is healthier than he's been. Hopefully, it will lead to a great win on Saturday."

Sure hope the guys are hanging on to his words to get their motivation. It was clear they are sticking with him and rallying behind him given how they hung in there and unleashed that rally last weekend in Corvallis. Despite the relentless effort by the Southern California's traditional media to thread the narrative of a team losing faith in their head coach by jumping on tweeter, (alleged) facebook postings of players, players' parents, our football team has been fighting it out in every game.

The match up with Washington is going to be very interesting today because I feel good about our chances. While Washington has obviously the superstar athlete in Jake Locker, I believe our team has better over all talent. John B from UW Dawg Pound thinks the key matchup is going to between UDub's rushing game and our defense. From his UCLA preview:

Washington running game versus the UCLA defense

This is where the game is going to be won on Saturday. UCLA is giving up over 157 yards per game this season and the Huskies goal going into this game is to pick up around 200 yards. That might be easier said than done because UW averages a shade under 120 yards per game on the ground and Sarkisan probably doesn't want to put too much of a load on Jake Locker who is recovering from a quad bruise. The staff is however treating this as the the must win that it truly is. If Locker can run they are going to unleash him if that what it takes to win this game. We all know what tye of running back Chris polk is. He gets the tough yards inside but is very capable of breaking some big one's. He needs to do that this week and have a career day.

Success rushing the football and winning go hand-in-hand for the Huskies. Since 1990, UW has rushed for 200 yards in a game 72 times. The Huskies’ record stands at 59-12-1 (.826) in those contests. Since the1995 season, Washington is 34-9-1 (.784) when rushing for 200 yards.

Guess will have to keep a close eye on that stat. In terms of Huskies rushing attack not only our defense will have to worry about their freshman RB Chris Polk, who is a physical running averaging more than 80 yards per game, our guys will have to also worry about Locker's ability to gain yards by ground assault. I think he is potentially more effective runner than Tim Tebow as a QB. He is one of those guys who can probably gain more than 1,000 yards a season if his coaches really let him loose. Given how our secondary has had a tough time providing run support in last few games, I am a little weary about how our defense performs today. Hopefully, as we have said all week Bullough will finally decide to get aggressive from the outset to help the set the tone today. More after the jump.

While John B thinks the game might be won or lost depending on how the Bruin D stacks up against the Huskies' rushing attack, Bob Condotta from the Seattle Times (who seems to be the best beat reporter in terms of providing substantive information in the Pac-10) thinks the key matchup is going to be on the other side between the Husky secondary and UCLA receivers:

[W]hat I've said may be the biggest matchup of the game seems to favor UCLA --- the Bruins' tall WRs against UW's secondary, which will again likely start two true freshmen.

If the Huskies really go with the line featuring Daniel Te'o-Nesheim inside and true frosh Talia Crichton and Andru Pulu at end, that's four true freshmen starting on defense in a place where UW hasn't won in 14 years.

Just seems like a lot of ominous factors to overcome. So, as much as I'd love to spend some of the pre-Christmas holidays gambling in Vegas with Todd Milles -- I think this game may be the one that makes or breaks UW bowl hopes and no offense to anywhere else, but I'd love to test anew if what happens in Vegas really stays in Vegas --- just not sure I see it.

I think it'll be close, but ultimately, I see the Bruins winning --- as they always seem to do here against the Huskies --- 24-21.

Hey, we have no problem with that. LAT has more on today's game in their generic writeups here and here.

We will have the game thread up about half an hour before kickoff (12:30 PST). Don't forget to get your guesses in by then.