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September 27, 2008After tonight's Virginia Tech game, the college football world will know much about what type of season this will be for the Nebraska football team.
The Huskers go into tonight's nationally televised game against the Hokies as a seven point favorite. Here are today's keys to victory as Nebraska prepares to take on a hard-nosed Virginia Tech squad.
Stop the run
Virginia Tech will come into Lincoln with one of the worst passing offenses in the country. The Hokies have yet to develop an identity through the air, so expect them to try to run the ball early and often.
For the Huskers, it will be important to slow down Tech's ground attack in the first half so they don't establish any early confidence that they can move the ball on the Huskers front seven. It will also be important to keep containment on quarterback Tyrod Taylor and limit his big plays.
Protecting Joe Ganz
Tech will bring the heat on Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz. Everything Nebraska does on offense is built around Ganz, so it will be important that NU does their best to protect him in the pocket.
In last week's North Carolina game, the Hokies took out Tar Heel starting quarterback T.J. Yates and that game completely turned around once he went down. The Huskers cannot afford for something like that to happen tonight.
Keep mental mistakes to a minimum
Nebraska cannot afford to get any dumb penalties or turn the ball over on Saturday. The Hokie defense is too good if you put your offense in predictable downs and situations.
It will also be important that Ganz does not force balls into coverage. In a game like this, you almost have to be content with a punt instead of taking a big risk on a play that's not there.
Virginia Tech only has nine touchdown drives on the season, five of which were 43 yards or less. With that said, don't expect to see very many long drives by Virginia Tech.
It will be important for Nebraska to control the field position game on Saturday. This Hokie offense is not built for 70 to 80 yard type drives. If Nebraska can make Tech work for their points, they'll have a very good chance to win this game.
Keep the crowd in the game
The Hokies travel roster last week was comprised of 34 freshmen and sophomores, compared to 36 juniors and seniors. This is a very young Tech squad, so the atmosphere is going to be something Nebraska should really be able to utilize.
In last year's LSU game, the Hokies had a very hard time with the night game atmosphere in Baton Rouge. Expect no different tonight.
PREDICTION: Nebraska 23 Virginia Tech 17