College Football: Virginia Tech-Nebraska preview
BLACKSBURG, Va. ó A lot has changed since the first time Nebraska and Virginia Tech met.
That matchup came in the Orange Bowl after the 1996 season, when the Hokies were still trying to prove they belonged with the top programs like the Cornhuskers. Back then, they didn’t quite measure up: Nebraska won 41-21.
Fast forward 13 years and the roles have changed considerably.
With the No. 13 Hokies now established as an elite program, it is the No. 19 Cornhuskers who view their visit to Lane Stadium on today as a possible step on the road back to national prominence.
“You definitely have to look at it as a where-we’re-at type of thing,” Nebraska center Jacob Hickman said this week.
“It’s hard to tell where you’re at until you play a big team like this. Definitely, we’re looking at it as a measuring stick for where we are and where we need to go.”
The Cornhuskers, under the direction of Tom Osborne for that Orange Bowl victory, have been through four coaching changes since then. Bo Pelini, their coach since last year, also was an interim coach briefly after Frank Solich was fired in 2003.
The Huskers (2-0) have beaten two Sun Belt Conference teams while the Hokies (1-1) led No. 4 Alabama into the fourth quarter before losing, then handled Marshall easily.
Virginia Tech went to Nebraska and won 35-30 last season, but coach Frank Beamer isn’t buying the chatter that the programs have reversed positions in the football landscape.
“Me growing up and being around football for a long time, when you start naming the top programs in the country, I put Nebraska in there,” he said.
The lessons of that first meeting, Beamer said, still benefit his program.
“They just had so many good players. That’s kind of what I learned from that game. We hung in there and late in the game, them having more good players than we had really kind of showed itself,” he said.