The last time Nebraska beat a top 20 opponent on the road was Washington on September 20, 1997. I'm sure you'l get tired of hearing that before this game is over, but it's a horrendous streak that needs to end, and there would be no better time to end it than this weekend in Blacksburg.
Thing is, the Huskers are capable of winning this game. Virginia Tech isn't exactly a world-beater, and if Nebraska follows the keys to victory, they'll pull off the road win.
I know it's cliche' to say turnovers, but the Hokies feast on turnovers like Mark Mangino feasts on.... everything, apparently. The Hokies consistently figure out how to score on defense, or at least set up their conservative offense for easy scores.
He who wins the turnover battle wins this game. Easy to say, ain't it? Now go out and do it with thousands of people screaming so loud you can't hear the guy behind you. The day they bring that environment into your home theatre in 3D is the day I stop going outside forever.
Bo Pelini said it earlier in the week - this game is about execution. On defense, it means everyone knows their assignments and carries them out to perfection. On offense, it means no false start, illegal procedure, or other drive-killing penalties that plague teams who come into Blacksburg.
Execution also means not allowing the Hokie defense to disrupt the timing of Shawn Watson's passing game. Husker receivers will be tested for toughness tomorrow, something they haven't experienced yet this season. If Curenski Gilleylen can make tough catches over the middle, it's a sign he's a player. The same goes for other young receivers.
If Nebraska can limit turnovers and execute, it may be enough to win the game. The third key could establish a big win for Nebraska.
Nebraska fans have become enamored by Bo and Carl Pelini, but may not be as familiar with their Virginia Tech counterpart Bud Foster. Foster's defensive coaching is a key part to the Hokies success. His defenses have consistently ranked amongst the best in the nation since his arrival at Virginia Tech. Foster adjusts extremely well as the game goes on - if the Huskers can somehow get a two-score or double-digit lead before Foster makes his adjustments, other factors will fall into place.
A lead would take the Lane Stadium crowd out of the game, making the Huskers offense less prone to mistakes. It would also force the Hokies to come back with the pass, something they're not comfortable doing (much like Osborne's offenses weren't designed to come back from a deficit).
Allowing the Hokies to get that lead... well, we saw what happened last year as they never trailed throughout the game. We came back, but costly mistakes finished it in their favor.
Wouldn't it be sweet to be on the other side this weekend?