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September 27, 2008

Match-up watch: Nebraska vs. Virginia Tech

Each week, Huskeronline.com will breakdown the three key match-ups heading into Saturday's game. This week we break down three match-ups that should play a big role in determining Nebraska's success tonight against Virginia Tech.

Nebraska's running game vs. Virginia Tech's front seven

The Huskers were finally able to get things going in the running game two weeks ago against New Mexico State, as they racked up their best rushing total with 44 caries for 330 yards and three touchdowns.

However, the Aggies don't hold a candle to Virginia Tech's front seven athletically. The Hokies will likely bring both of their safeties up towards the line of scrimmage, sometimes keeping eight to nine guys in the box similar to what Western Michigan did.

In the WMU game, the Broncos were able to hold the Huskers to 138 yards on 31 carries. But it's not as if the Hokies can't be run on, as Georgia Tech's option offense put up 278 yards on the ground.

Nebraska's front seven vs. Virginia Tech's running game

For the first time this season, the Huskers will face a predominantly run based offense in Virginia Tech. It's not as if the Hokies are going to come out and run the ball 50 times tonight, but it's what they present in overall physicality that will test NU's defense the most.

Unlike the spread out offenses the Huskers have played in their first three games, the Hokies will likely challenge Nebraska early and often with a power running game behind running back Darren Evans mixed with the scrambling ability of quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Though it doesn't mean quite as much considering the style of offenses they've faced, the Huskers have allowed just 258 rushing yards on the season, and opposing back has gained more than 58 yards in a game. To put those 258 yards in perspective, Virginia Tech gave up 278 in one game to Georgia Tech earlier this season.

Joe Ganz vs. Tyrod Taylor

More so than anything else, tonight's game could very well be decided on which quarterback has the better night. With so much attention focused on stopping the other team's running game, tonight could easily be depended on which team can make more plays through the air.

In that regard, Nebraska has an undisputed advantage in senior Joe Ganz. Through three games, Ganz has put up 719 yards and five touchdowns through the air while completing 64.1 percent of his passes. Against New Mexico State, he completed the trifecta with a touchdown via rushing, passing and receiving.

Taylor doesn't have nearly the numbers of Ganz, but his ability to both run and throw makes him the biggest threat at quarterback the Huskers have faced this year. Though he sat out the first game, the Hokies are 3-0 with him under center, and he already leads the team in passing and ranks second in rushing.



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