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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 27th, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (81,067) -- Lincoln, Nebraska. Television: ABC. Home Record: Virginia Tech 2-0, Nebraska 3-0. Away Record: Virginia Tech 1-0, Nebraska 0-0. Neutral Record: Virginia Tech 0-1, Nebraska 0-0. Conference Record: Virginia Tech 2-0, Nebraska 0-0. Series Record: Nebraska leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Tech Hokies of the ACC have traveled to Lincoln for a clash with the Nebraska Cornhuskers of the Big 12. Virginia Tech opened the season with a loss to East Carolina on a neutral field, but the team has rallied to post three consecutive victories since that setback. The most recent triumph occurred last weekend by a 20-17 final at North Carolina, as the Hokies moved to 2-0 in conference. Ironically, their other league win also came by a 20-17 final over Georgia Tech. VaTech is 5-7 against current members of the Big 12, including 3-3 under Frank Beamer. As for Nebraska, it is set to play its fourth of what will be five consecutive home games to open this season. The Cornhuskers have yet to be challenged, as they rolled to another victory last time out over New Mexico State, 38-7. First-year head coach Bo Pelini will find out exactly what his team is made of the next two weeks, as national powerhouse Missouri is on the docket following what promises to be a tough game this Saturday. Nebraska won the only previous meeting with Virginia Tech back in 1996.
Virginia Tech is scoring 21.5 ppg this season to go along with 271.8 total ypg, modest numbers that can certainly be improved significantly. The Hokies rely heavily on their ground attack, which accounts for 172.8 ypg. Of the nine touchdowns that they have scored on offense, eight have been of the rushing variety. Darren Evans leads Tech in rushing with 264 yards, and he has four touchdowns to his credit. Second on the list is Tyrod Taylor, the team's quarterback, who has posted 221 yards in only three outings. As a passer, Taylor isn't much of a threat. He has only attempted 24 passes in three outings, and he has tossed two interceptions. Virginia Tech finished with only 16 first downs and 268 total yards against North Carolina last week, but those stats proved to be good enough to win the game. Taylor found little room to run the ball and was intercepted twice. He was also sacked twice in the tilt, but the Hokies scored just enough points in yet another ugly win.
As usual, VaTech is a strong defensive team. The Hokies are yielding 17.0 ppg and 327.5 total ypg, and they have allowed eight touchdowns to opposing offenses in four outings. There have been some big pass plays surrendered by the team, and coach Beamer obviously wants that to stop immediately. With 11 takeaways and seven sacks, there have been a large number of impact plays made. Brett Warren leads the Hokies with 35 tackles, and Stephan Virgil has a pair of interceptions and two TFLs to his credit. In last week's win over North Carolina, Warren had nine tackles. There is no doubt that the key to the victory for the Hokies was that they were able to force four turnovers.
Most casual college football fans can not name a single player on the Nebraska team. After all, the program has been uncharacteristically mediocre in recent years. The Huskers are racking up 40.0 ppg and 450.3 ypg of total offense through the first three games. Joe Ganz is the club's starting quarterback, and he has completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 719 yards and five touchdowns against three interceptions. Ganz has also rushed for 105 yards and a score, keeping defenses honest. The ground attack is spearheaded by talented tailback Marlon Lucky. On only 34 carries, Lucky has generated 169 yards and four touchdowns. Roy Helu Jr. is another standout runner who will likely get some touches this weekend. Leading the receivers is Nate Swift with 12 grabs for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Nebraska generated 28 first downs and 553 total yards against New Mexico State last time out. The Huskers racked up 330 rushing yards on an average of 7.5 yards per attempt. Lucky ran for 103 yards and two scores on 15 carries. Ganz completed 13-of-17 passes for 158 yards and one score, and he also ran for a touchdown.
Opponents are posting 14.3 ppg against Nebraska, which is yielding 347.3 total ypg. The Cornhuskers have been tough against the run, limiting foes to 77.7 ypg and 2.6 ypc. While opponents have been able to rack up 269.7 passing ypg, Nebraska has come up with five interceptions while allowing only two passing touchdowns. There have been nine sacks registered by the Huskers, who have surrendered five touchdowns on 14 trips by the opposition to the red zone. Cody Glenn leads Nebraska with 21 total tackles, including four TFLs. It is hard to imagine the Cornhuskers playing any better on defense than they did against New Mexico State. The only points surrendered to the Aggies came on a fourth-quarter touchdown that started on Nebraska's three-yard line. Sure, the Huskers permitted 339 yards, but they intercepted two passes in the clash and sent the Aggies away with no points on three of their four trips to the red zone.
Give a narrow edge to Nebraska in this game based on the homefield advantage. Also, the fact that the Cornhuskers throw the ball more effectively than Virginia Tech helps the cause.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska 23, Virginia Tech 20
09/24 10:36:12 ET