SAN DIEGO — Jake Locker bounced back from an injury and scored on a 25-yard run in the third quarter, and tailback Chris Polk ran for 177 yards and a score to help the Washington Huskies to a 19-7 win over the listless No. 17 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Holiday Bowl on Thursday night.
The Huskies (7-6) avenged a 56-21 loss to the Huskers (10-4) in Seattle on Sept. 18. The Cornhuskers piled up 533 yards of total offense in that game, including 383 rushing.
While Washington was a winner in its first bowl game since 2002, the Huskers came out flat in their second straight Holiday Bowl appearance. They were manhandled on both sides of the line and imploded under 12 penalties for 102 yards.
Washington outgained Nebraska 340 yards to 189, including 268 to 91 rushing.
Locker, who passed up the NFL draft last spring to return for his senior season, capped the opening drive of the second half with a 25-yard scoring run to give UW a 17-7 lead. He faked a handoff and then ran right, bouncing off a defender and staying on his feet to score.
Locker ran 13 times for 83 yards. Polk had 34 carries.
Locker was shaken up in the second quarter when he scrambled, slid headfirst and was hit helmet-to-helmet by Nebraska safety Austin Cassidy. Locker was on the ground for a few minutes before walking off on his own power. He was replaced by Keith Price for the rest of the series, which ended when a fourth-down run by Chris Polk was stuffed.
Locker returned for the next series after safety Nate Fellner intercepted Taylor Martinez’s pass.
The Huskies had to win their final three regular-season games to become bowl eligible. They got their first win in four trips to the Holiday Bowl.
Nebraska was coming off a 23-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game in which it blew a 17-point lead.
Martinez limped off the field in the third quarter. He was replaced by Cody Green, who had a nice scramble deep in his own territory. But guard Ricky Henry was called for holding in the end zone for a safety, giving Washington a 19-7 lead.
Martinez missed the regular-season finale against Colorado because of injuries to his right ankle and left foot.
Nebraska played as bad a first half as possible and trailed just 10-7 at halftime.
The Huskers fumbled twice on the game’s opening drive, once by Martinez as he was sacked, which was recovered by guard Keith Williams. Four plays later, Rex Burkhead took a direct snap, fumbled as he was hit by Victor Aiyewa, with Washington’s Alameda Ta’amu recovering and returning it 14 yards to the Nebraska 21.
Polk scored three plays later, running in untouched from the 3.
The Huskies made it 10-0 on Erik Folk’s 39-yard field goal.
The Huskers came back and salvaged a drive on which they were whistled for consecutive delay-of-game penalties. Martinez gained 20 yards on a keeper on third-and-13, and a late hit out of bounds by Nate Fellner gave the Huskers the ball at the Huskies’ 17. Three plays later, Martinez threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Kyler Reed to pull to 10-7.
Folk was wide left on a 48-yard field goal try two seconds before halftime.