No. 18 Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. No. 14 Virginia
Tech Hokies (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS), 3:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, September 19,
2009, Worsham Field/Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va., TV: ABC
by Badger of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Nebraska +4/Virginia Tech -4
This Saturday afternoon we should finally find out if the 18th-ranked
Nebraska Cornhuskers are back on the map as an elite program under head coach Bo Pelini, because they face their first test of the
season when they travel to Blacksburg to take on the 14th-ranked
Virginia Tech Hokies in hostile Lane Stadium.
The Cornhuskers have rolled through their non-conference schedule so
far, putting two lopsided victories on lesser-named programs Florida
Atlantic and Arkansas State. But while some BCS teams have struggled
against the cupcakes, the Huskers have won by an average margin of
37.5 points and have looked so good that faithful fans of the Huskers
are starting to believe again.
The Hokies should provide a stiff test for the Huskers though, as
they rebounded from their season opening loss to Alabama very nicely
last weekend with a 52-10 romp over Marshall. Virginia Tech racked up
444 rushing yards in the victory, but they are still having some
troubles on 3rd down (4-for-11 vs. Marshall), which could make them
ripe for the upset at home.
Most sportsbooks opened the showdown on Saturday with Virginia Tech
as 3.5-point favorites, although there are a few offshore sportsbooks
that have moved the point spread to Virginia Tech minus 4 points
Only a few books have an over/under total listed on the board
already, with books listing the total at 51, while
Pinnacle Sportsbook has it at 51.5.
Its hard to really judge how good the Nebraska offense really is,
since theyve stomped on a few overmatched teams so far, but they do
look solid. Quarterback Zac Lee is hitting on over 70 percent of his
passes and had a career game last week with 340 yards passing and
four touchdowns. The offense is averaging 492.5 yards per game and is
currently 13th in the country in scoring at 43.5 points per game.
The Virginia Tech offense has been plagued by the slow start of
quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and the result is that the Hokies have
become one-dimensional relying heavily on the running game. The good
news is they have found a big-time running back, as Ryan Williams has
five touchdowns and a 164-yard game versus Marshall under his belt
this season already.
However, the Hokies lack of a passing game is taking its toll on third down, since they are just 6-for-23 so far in two games on the
Its also causing the usually strong Hokies defense to wear down
quicker since theyre playing more snaps. The Hokies defense gave up
268 yards rushing versus Bama, with a 5.5-yard average, when they had
to play 79 snaps against the Bama offense.
The Huskers defense has given up its fair share of yards too, despite giving up just 12 points through two games. Florida Atlantic ran for 122 yards on the ground, and Arkansas State topped 150 yards rushing,
so there are some flaws that need to be corrected if they expect to
get out of Blacksburg with a win.
Virginia Tech won on the road in Lincoln by a 35-30 score last
season, a game where the Hokies rushed for over 200 yards. But the
only other time these two schools have met on the gridiron is when
Nebraska walked away with a 41-21 victory in 1996, making it an even
1-1 series record both straight up and against the spread.
Both of the previous meetings ended over the total, and both of the
Hokies games so far this season have ended over the number as well.
Both of Nebraskas games have ended under the total, but they have
chased some big totals (52.5 and 60) during the first two weeks.
Traditionally the under is a strong play in Blacksburg, as the under
is 13-4 in the Hokies last 17 home games in Lane Stadium.
Badgers Pick: Im waiting like a lot of folks to see how good the
Huskers really are this year. I think they are ready to go on the
road and win a big game, Im just not willing to wager too much on
it. Take Nebraska plus the 4 points.