Thursday, January 2nd, 1997
Huskers Pile-Drive Hokies Into Submission
Well, there's something you don't see every day: an opposing team battering the Hokies in the fourth quarter.
I honestly thought the Hokies had an excellent shot at winning this game (did anybody notice that prior to the game, I updated my football page and predicted a win?). I figured that if Texas, which is not as physical as Tech is, could handle the Huskers, then Tech might actually be able to go nose-to-nose with them and beat them at their own game. My reasoning went that Tech was the far superior team at quarterback, and the Hokies had way more motivation than the Huskers.
When I first arrived at the stadium, I didn't see anything to dissuade me. Nebraska had a tiny little gathering of red-clad fans in their corner of the stadium, while the Hokies had over 20,000 orange-and-maroon, pom-pom waving maniacs. The rest of the stadium was nearly empty, and it seemed like a private little coming-out party for the Hokies.
But alas, a larger crowd and more motivation doth not a victory make. Not when the other team knows how to take care of business and can march wave after wave of fresh high-school All-Americans at you. The Hokies needed to make some exceptional plays, play mistake-free ball, and get some breaks. They got a few plays, didn't quite play mistake-free ball, and got exactly zero breaks, which added up to a defeat that was much closer than the final 41-21 score indicated.
Except, of course, for a few jerks.
Greg Cote of The Miami Herald, who ought to know better after watching the Hokies beat his beloved home town Canes two years in a row, said, "...Tech must now return defeated to its campus in...whatever city it's in."
Uh, it's a town, Greg, not a city. Blacksburg, specifically. And we sent more fans clear down the coast to watch our team than your stupid city could manage to send across town to watch your Canes in the Carquest Bowl.
Greg also wrote, "There is not much worse than a lopsided, meaningless bowl game...unless it's a lopsided, meaningless bowl game in the wrong stadium." I would like to add "Or unless it's a frustrated, no-talent sports 'writer' who's so bitter about his hometown team having to settle for the third place Big East bowl that he can't show the class to say something nice about what was actually a pretty decent game."
The Sun-Sentinel, a South Florida newspaper, was much nicer. They gave Tech a lot of credit for hanging in there and wrote very complimentary articles about Druck and Ox. And The USA Today was also fair, saying that Tech "turned this game into a national showcase for one of their best teams in school history." When discussing the empty seats at the stadium (attendance was listed at 51,212, which I think was overestimating it), McPaper said that "Nebraska and Tech played an entertaining game."
On the down side, Rudy Martzke, in his USA Today "Sports on TV" column, gave his "Top Graphic" award to CBS for "showing 21 arrests among 17 Virginia Tech players since August 1995." Oh, yeah, that little stat added a lot to the average viewer's understanding of what was going on in the game. Shove it up your word processor, Rudy.
Lee Corso, the Village Idiot on ESPN, called us "dumb and dumber" for (a) having a nickname like the Hokies, and (b) getting in so much trouble off the field. Question: does anybody care what this moron says any more? After all, he said that Northwestern would "roll" over Tennessee (the Vols won a squeaker, 48-28, as Northwestern limited Peyton Manning to only 408 yards passing and 4 TD's).
I'm not too upset about the Orange Bowl. Nebraska is a hell of a team that had too much fire power for us. I'm really proud of the way the Tech offense played, shredding the vaunted Nebraska defense for over 400 yards of offense, including nearly 200 yards rushing, and I thought the effort the defense put forth can't be criticized.
What I'm really getting depressed about is the fact that the next time I see these numbers on a Tech jersey, someone else will be wearing them: 16, 61, 71, 76, 81, 58, 21, 55, 9, and 14. Those guys brought us a lot of fun, excitement, and respect in the last two years, and we'll miss them all. The good news is that we get to watch some of them in the NFL next year and beyond.
Something else that has me worried is that after playing in two straight Alliance bowls, going to a lesser bowl like the Independence or Carquest won't carry the same excitement any more. I mean, you should have seen the delirium on the faces of the Tech fans at the Orange Bowl! You don't get an atmosphere like that every day.
But hey, I'm incapable of being spoiled, after all the years we had to wait without going to bowls, and I'll always be there, no matter what the bowl game is or who the opponent is (at least until I have kids and can't afford to go to bowl games anymore). And there's always the chance that we'll get to, say, smash the smug looks off the faces of the Tarheels some year. Or maybe we'll meet Louisville in the Liberty Bowl some day and get a chance to pay them back for bullying the Metro for so many years.
So, you see, we've still got a lot to look forward to!
Here it is, folks. The schedule is tentative and should be finalized next week:
Aug 30 at Rutgers (ESPN) Sep. 6 Open Sep. 13 SYRACUSE Sep. 20 at Temple Sep. 27 ARKANSAS STATE Oct. 4 MIAMI (OHIO) Oct. 11 ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM Oct. 18 BOSTON COLLEGE Oct. 25 at West Virginia Nov. 1 Open Nov. 8 MIAMI Nov. 15 Open Nov. 22 at Pittsburgh Nov. 29 at Virginia
Email me and let me know what you think of the schedule (both the teams and the breakdown of home/away dates). I'll try to post my Orange Bowl game analysis tomorrow. See you later!