- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 27, 2008

LINCOLN, Neb. | No one expected anything less than Nebraska’s 3-0 start. Now comes Saturday night’s game against Virginia Tech, which should represent the first true measure of the Cornhuskers‘ progress under first-year coach Bo Pelini.

“We have to prove ourselves to everybody,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said.

That includes proving to themselves that the malaise that set in during Bill Callahan’s final year in Lincoln is truly gone. The Huskers have won each of their first three games by no fewer than 23 points. And, other than for a few minutes against San Jose State, they have not been pushed.

That’s expected to change against the Hokies (3-1).

“We’re all wondering how good we can actually be and how we play against elite teams like this,” quarterback Joe Ganz said. “They are a powerhouse in the ACC. We’re going to use this as a test to see where we’re at.”

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer looks at the game the same way for his team, which starts as many as seven freshmen and sophomores.

The Hokies are coming off back-to-back 20-17 wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina, rallying from 14 points down in the third quarter to win on the road against the Tar Heels last week.

Virginia Tech hasn’t traveled so far west for a regular season game since playing at Oklahoma in 1991. The Hokies and Huskers met in the 1996 Orange Bowl, with Nebraska winning 41-21.

That game came in the middle of Nebraska’s run of 60 wins in 63 games over the last five years of former coach Tom Osborne’s coaching career. The Huskers won or shared three national titles during that period.

The Huskers declined over Frank Solich’s six years as coach, and the program’s struggles have worsened during the past four years under Callahan.

But to Beamer, Nebraska still represents the best of college football.

“They’re the winningest program since 1970, they’re undefeated, and they’re very exciting about the way they’re coming back to being the Nebraska of old,” Beamer said. “It’s a real challenge for our football team.”

Perhaps the Hokies’ biggest challenge on the road will be getting their offense moving. They’re averaging just 272 yards a game, have just nine offensive touchdowns in four games and haven’t scored in a first quarter.

“There’s no question we’re working hard to get our offense consistent,” Beamer said. “We haven’t been very consistent. We did make strides the last part of the game against North Carolina. I’m confident we can build on that and keep moving in positive direction.”


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