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September 15, 2009

Huskers in search of a signature win this weekend

It's been well documented that Nebraska has struggled on the road against top 20 teams over the last 12 years.

In fact, the previous two Huskers head coaches - Frank Solich and Bill Callahan, never won a road game against a top 20 team during their tenures at NU.

The last time Nebraska won a big time game on the road against a top 20 opponent was in 1997 against No. 2 ranked Washington in Seattle. That's why when the Huskers travel to Lane Stadium to take on No. 14 ranked Virginia Tech they'll be trying to fight history.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Sean Fisher has been following the Husker program for his entire life growing up in Omaha, and he said on Tuesday that he can't remember the last time NU won a game like the one they'll play on Saturday.

"It's been a few years where I can think of one that really stands out in my mind," Fisher said.

"I think it would be a statement win. Obviously going on the road and playing against a ranked team like them is a big deal. They've got some pretty good athletes, so to be able to come out with a win would be a big deal for us."

When senior offensive lineman Jacob Hickman looks back to last year's 35-30 loss to Virginia Tech in Lincoln, he still has a bad taste in his mouth.

Hickman said if there was one game the team wishes they could have back from last season, it would be the Virginia Tech one.

Tuesday press conference thoughts
What's a spy?:I still can remember when Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini was asked in 2003 on if he plans to put a "spy" on Missouri quarterback Brad Smith. Pelini looked at the reporter and asked him what a spy was, and said he's been around football his whole life and he's not familiar with that term. On Tuesday, Pelini was asked that same question and gave a similar answer. Pelini joked and called it a "Box-and-10 defense."
Modeling Virginia Tech: When Pelini looks at Virginia Tech's program under head coach Frank Beamer, he said there are a lot of things Beamer does that he wouldn't mind using himself as a coach. "I love the physicality by which they play," Pelini said. "They do a lot of things in that program that anybody that's in this profession would want to take a good hard look at and say 'I'd love our program to be about some of their principles.' I have a lot of respect for Coach Beamer and his staff and what they've done. It's not been a year here or a year there. They've done it for over a long period of time and that's something to be proud of from their standpoint."
More than 9-4: Senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said he came back for his senior season to do more than go 9-4. That's why when he looks at this upcoming Saturday's game at Virginia Tech, it will play a major role in deciding if NU can get to where he and the rest of this team want to go this season.
Getting physical: Redshirt freshman linebacker Sean Fisher said he was not happy with the way he played this past Saturday against Arkansas State. Fisher said he lacked a physical presence on the field and that's something that he definitely has to improve upon as this season moves on.
"They scored enough points to beat us, so obviously I can't say we gave it to them," Hickman said. "It was obviously frustrating because we felt like we could go out and win that game and we didn't go out and play the way we could've to do that."

Senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh also looks at the Virginia Tech game as a major opportunity for the Huskers program.

Suh said the team knows it's been a long time since NU has won a big time road game, and he's hoping they can snap that streak on Saturday.

"We are in a situation to where we are a very historic program, well known and everything and we've had great years here," Suh said. "I think we are in position where we need to play back up to that level and that's kind of our chip on our shoulder.

"We want to get back up to where we want to play and know how we can play. That's our own personal chip that we have with ourselves."

NU head coach Bo Pelini to no surprise doesn't get caught up in the past history over Nebraska's struggles on the road with ranked opponents.

Pelini said he feels like if the Huskers do what they're supposed to do and execute soundly on Saturday, the rest will take care of itself.

"I don't care about that," Pelini said of NU's past struggles on the road. "I don't care about all of that. It would be the next win. It would be the next win. It wouldn't be any bigger than the first two as far as I'm concerned. It's the next step and that's how I approach it and that's how this football team approaches it.

"All those things mean nothing. National TV means nothing. Where we are playing means nothing, it's about executing between the lines and executing our football-period and end of story. If we are able to do that, we'll like the outcome. If we aren't, that's the challenge that lies ahead of us."

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