September 28, 2009

Nebraska takes Hokies' upset win in stride

]Jacob Hickman didn't try to pretend he didn't see it.

Shortly after Nebraska handed Louisiana-Lafayette a 55-0 beat down on Saturday night, the Huskers' senior center turned on the locker room TV to check out some of the college football scores from around the country.

There it was: No. 11 Virginia Tech 31, No. 9 Miami 7.

It was probably the only thing that could've put a damper on the night for Hickman, as all he could think about was what could have been.

"It was infuriating," Hickman said before the reporter asking about his reaction to the Hokies' win could finish his question. "The fact that we would basically be ranked very high if we would've just closed out the damn game. It just kind of shows you where we're at. It's like, we really thought we were the better team in that game. You're up most of the game, and if we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot we felt like we definitely could've won that game. We could've won maybe heavily.

"It was one of those things where you see it, and they get after a top-10 team like Miami, and you're kind of like, alright, well, we can play with anybody."

After talking it out a bit, Hickman' tone eventually swayed from anger to a more positive outlook.

He said the game showed that Nebraska is in fact not that far off from the nation's top-ranked teams. That sentiment was the same for several other Huskers who saw a Virginia Tech team they dominated for all but three plays just a week earlier.

Some of Hickman's teammates, however, weren't quite as modest about their feeling towards the Hokies' victory.

"That's who we were cheering on at the hotel before the game," freshman quarterback Cody Green said. "At the hotel we were cheering for Virginia Tech to just beat the crap out of Miami, because we know that we are a heck of a football team and we know if we lose to a team that beats another team by 24, we know we can compete with those guys. That just gives us a little confidence booster."

In the end, though, there's no taking back the missed opportunity in Blacksburg two games ago. The disappointment of wondering what a win that day could have done for rest of the season and the direction of the program as a whole will likely be there forever.

The only thing the Huskers can do about it now is to continue exactly what they started on Saturday - move on and get better because of it.

"They played great that day," defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said. "Again, finish, focus and refocus. That was a great learning experience for our guys. You can preach as a coach that every play is important and you've got to focus like this is the most important play of the game. It's easy to preach that, but it's hard for a young man to listen until it happens.

"It's a sick thing, but I'm proud of the way our guys responded. I'm proud of our team."

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