Nebraska takes to the road for the first time in 2009 next Saturday when it travels to Blacksburg, Va., for a meeting with Virginia Tech. The game will feature a pair of nationally ranked teams, with the Huskers entering the contest ranked 19th in the Associated Press Poll and 18th by the coaches. Virginia Tech is 13th in the AP and No. 14 by the coaches.
The Cornhuskers improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 38-9 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday in Lincoln. Nebraska’s offense was crisp in the victory, rolling up 494 yards of total offense, including 358 passing yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Blackshirt defense held the opposition to single digits for the second straight week to open the 2009 campaign.
Virginia Tech enters the contest with a 1-1 record after a 52-10 home victory over Marshall on Saturday. The Hokies racked up 605 yards of offense, including 444 rushing yards. The Hokies dropped a 34-24 decision to Alabama in their season opener on Sept. 5.
Saturday’s meeting will be the third matchup between the two schools, with the teams splitting the first two meetings. Virginia Tech posted a 35-30 victory in Lincoln last year in the first regular-season meeting between the schools. Nebraska captured the initial meeting with a 41-21 victory in the 1996 Orange Bowl.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 12-4 record in his second season with the Huskers. Pelini guided Nebraska to nine wins in his first season as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich as the only Nebraska coaches to win nine games in their first season leading the Cornhuskers. Prior to taking over as the Huskers’ head coach, Pelini served as defensive coordinator at NU, Oklahoma and LSU. Previously, he had stints as an NFL assistant with San Francisco, New England and Green Bay.
Virginia Tech: Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech, ‘69) is in his 23rd season at the helm of the Virginia Tech program. Only Penn State’s Joe Paterno and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden have longer tenures in their current job than Beamer. He owns a 220-113-4 overall record in 29 seasons as head coach and a 178-90-2 record in his 23rd season at Virginia Tech.
Nebraska Continuing Win Streak into 2009
The 38-9 victory over Arkansas State last Saturday marked Nebraska’s sixth straight victory dating back to last season. The win streak is Nebraska’s longest since reeling off 13 straight victories in 2000 and 2001. Nebraska has won eight of nine games dating back to last October.
The Huskers won six of their final seven games of the 2008 season with the only loss at No. 4 Oklahoma.
** NU’s second-half record in 2008 was the best seven-game finish to a season for Nebraska since 1999, when NU was also 6-1. Nebraska was one of only 16 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision to win six of its final seven games last season.
** Just seven teams currently have a winning streak of at least six games, including only four with a longer streak than NU’s six-game streak.
Current Win Streaks
Ole Miss 7
Huskers Seeking Road Victory over Ranked Foe
Nebraska’s matchup with 13th-ranked Virginia Tech will mark the fourth top-15 opponent Nebraska has faced in Bo Pelini’s tenure as head coach. Nebraska was 0-3 against ranked opponents last season, losing to No. 4 Missouri at home and dropping road games at No. 7 Texas Tech and No. 4 Oklahoma.
Overall, Nebraska has dropped nine straight games against ranked opponents. The Huskers’ last victory over a ranked foe was a 28-27 win at No. 24 Texas A&M in 2006.
** Nebraska will be looking to end an 11-game slide against teams ranked 20th or higher, and Virginia Tech would be the highest ranked opponent NU has defeated since a win over second-ranked Oklahoma in October of 2001.
** A win over the 13th-ranked Hokies would mark the highest ranked team Nebraska has defeated away from Lincoln since a win over No. 6 Tennessee in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl.
Nebraska Becoming Familiar with ACC
Nebraska will be meeting Virginia Tech for the second straight season, and in recent years the Cornhuskers have become familiar with ACC opponents. In addition to the home-and-home series with the Hokies, Nebraska had two meetings with Wake Forest in 2005 and 2007, and met Clemson in last year’s Gator Bowl.
Despite the recent matchups, the Huskers’ matchup with Virginia Tech will be just the seventh regular-season meeting in school history against an opponent that was a member of the ACC at game time. The trip to Blacksburg will be just the second road game among those seven. Nebraska is 5-1 in those games, with the lone loss coming to Virginia Tech last year. Nebraska defeated Wake Forest in both meetings and also knocked off Wake in 1970 and North Carolina State in 1962 and 1973.
Nebraska has had numerous battles with current ACC members Florida State and Miami since 1973. However, all of those matchups with Miami were before the Hurricanes joined the ACC for the 2004 season. Of the eight meetings with Florida State, the four regular-season meetings (1980, 1981, 1985, 1986) all came while the ‘Noles were an independent, and two of four bowl meetings occurred after FSU joined the conference. Nebraska has also faced Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech and North Carolina in bowl games, but never in the regular season.
NU owns a 15-15 all-time record against current members of the ACC. The Huskers have a home-and-home series with Miami set for 2014 and 2015.
Nebraska Seeks to Slow Hokie Rushing Attack
The running game figures to play a key role in determining the outcome of Saturday’s matchup. Both teams have shown the ability to have strong rushing attacks in 2009. Virginia Tech ranks 13th nationally in rushing offense at 254.0 yards per game. In the 52-10 win over Marshall the Hokies racked up 444 rushing yards. Nebraska also ranks in the top 40 nationally in rushing offense at 197.5 yards per game.
** Virginia Tech used a powerful running game to key its victory last season in Lincoln. The Hokies picked up 206 rushing yards on 55 carries in the contest, while Nebraska rushed for just 55 yards on 25 carries.
** During Nebraska’s current six-game win streak its run defense has played a key role in the success. The Huskers have allowed an average of just 83.0 rushing yards in those contests. Nebraska is allowing an average of 137.5 yards rushing in its first two games of 2009, but has allowed just one rushing touchdown.
Hokies Provide First Big Test in Challenging ‘09 Nebraska Schedule
Nebraska’s 2009 schedule features contests against eight teams that finished with a .500 or better record in 2008 and six teams that appeared in bowl games. Included in that group are games against BCS bowl participants Oklahoma (BCS Championship Game) and Virginia Tech (Orange), along with other bowl teams Texas Tech (Cotton), Missouri (Alamo), Kansas (Insight) and Florida Atlantic (Motor City).
Nebraska’s three games against Sun Belt foes are the Huskers’ first-ever meeting with each school. The last time Nebraska faced three opponents for the first time in the same season was in 1997 when Nebraska faced Akron and Central Florida in non-conference play and met Tennessee in the Orange Bowl.
In Big 12 action, Nebraska will face OU, Texas Tech and visit Baylor from the South Division, along with its full slate of North Division games.
Points Hard to Come By Against Nebraska Defense
Nebraska has allowed just 12 points in posting comfortable victories over Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State to open the season. Since 1982, Nebraska has allowed fewer points through two games just twice (1999, 2005).
The 2009 Blackshirts became just the third NU team in the past 40 seasons to not allow a touchdown in the season opener. A second-quarter touchdown by Arkansas State is the only time this season the opposition has reached the end zone. The touchdown also ended a streak of six-plus quarters dating back to 2008 in which the Nebraska defense did not allow a touchdown. Nebraska’s previous touchdown allowed came with 10:06 remaining in the third quarter of the Gator Bowl win over Clemson. The span between that TD and Arkansas State’s was more than 109 minutes of game action.