Friday, September 26, 2008

The Season Really Begins with Virginia Tech

Officially, Nebraska has a 3-0 record, but in the eyes of most fans, the season really kicks off Saturday night when Virginia Tech and the Hokies walk out onto Tom Osborne Field. Honestly, the first three games were somewhat like NFL exhibition games. You want to win, but the point was to get your feet wet on the field.

Meanwhile, Tech has played East Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech. So they aren't going to be intimidated about playing in Lincoln. But this isn't one of Frank Beamer's better squads...even Hokie fans admit it. They're just looking for improvement and development of young talent, just like the Big Red.

So while I think Nebraska is going to win...and certainly hope that Nebraska is going to win...I'm not 100% confident. This is one of those games that I could see going either way. Tech has a decent defense, but they struggled against East Carolina and to some extent against North Carolina until T.J. Yates went down. Tech's offense is somewhat one-dimensional, as Tyrod Taylor isn't the most gifted thrower. He is, however, a fairly gifted runner, and that's always been a problem for the Husker defense.

This is only the second time Nebraska has played Virginia Tech, and I'm proud to say I actually saw the first matchup. It was New Year's Eve 1996 in the Orange Bowl, and while the official attendance was 51,212 at Joe Robbie Stadium that night, I'd put the actual attendance closer to about 30,000. It was a woeful turnout by Husker fans; only about 4,000 showed up as fans already had plans to go to the Sugar Bowl until the Texas upset. Going to Miami wasn't cheap either. I had to fly out of Kansas City and fly back at 6 am New Years morning, then drive back to Omaha bleary eyed. And that airline ticket still cost me over $400! So I have to give the Husker fans who did show credit for their dedication. That wasn't a cheap trip to make, nor was it the trip they wanted to make.

Hokie fans were much more numerous, and they were enjoying themselves before the game. I did find that they took offense at my asking what a "Hokie" was; perhaps they view that question the same way Husker fans view "Does the N stand for Nowledge?" Afterwards, they were incredulous that they had lost, which surprised me some.

Needless to say, there will be a few more Husker fans in Lincoln on Saturday night.

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