Husker fans are eyeing the September 27th matchup with Virginia Tech as the first opportunity to see just how much of a difference the hiring of Bo Pelini will make. Just looking at last year, this one looks like a total mismatch. Nebraska went 5-7 and gave up 172 points in November alone; Virginia Tech is coming of an Orange Bowl bid and ACC Championship.
But attitudes in Lincoln are different now with Pelini in charge, and Husker fans remember last fall, when Pelini's LSU Tigers took the Hokies behind the woodshed and whipped them nearly as hard as the rest of the Big XII shellacked Nebraska last season. But c'mon... Nebraska was simply horrible at the end of the season. No way they can hang with the Hokies, right?
But stop and look at the Hokies a little closer. They lose five out of their front seven on defense to graduation along with their top four wide receivers. So that's a huge hole.
Then the offseason hit. Running back Brandon Ore was kicked off the team. The next two guys on the depth chart went down in spring practice: Kenny Lewis banged up his shoulder and is supposed to miss four to six months, making him doubtful for the start of the season, and Jahre Cheeseman would be out a couple of months as well with a broken fibula.
So maybe the passing game will pick up the slack. Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor might be a dynamic duo at quarterback. And Brandon Dillard broke out in the spring game putting his speed on display.
Uh oh. Scratch that last thought. Dillard tore his Achilles last night, and is out for the season.
Husker fans can't afford to look past Frank Beamer's bunch. But all those assumptions that make the Hokies the preemptive favorite in that end of September matchup are out the door. Virginia Tech now has just as many, if not more, question marks as do the Huskers. Any predictions for this game before mid September are based either on hunches, hope, or simply dumb chance.