Come Saturday, we'll all be sitting in front of the TV, watching our beloved Huskers take the field in a game with high stakes in terms of our national reputation. There will be much talk about being "back", or "signature wins". And while all Husker fans will understand the game's importance in terms of getting back to the glory years, there is another segment of the population who will be watching for a different reason.
Pretend you're a 17 or 18 year-old kid, a junior or senior in high school. That would mean that you were most likely born in 1991 or 1992, meaning that when Nebraska won three championships in four years, you were going through kindergarten or the first grade. Now, I don't know about all you readers, but I don't remember my kindergarten and first-grade years. Literally, I have about four vivid memories of that time frame, and absolutely none of them are about college football, that I know for sure.
What am I getting at here? I'm saying that to todays top high school recruits, we aren't Nebraska. We're some program who used to be good back in the day, and after that, there's not much to us. The children of this generation have been risen in an instant-gratification, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately era, and since they've been following college football, it's been USC and Florida, not Nebraska, that makes them think of dominance.
Sure, our coaches can remind them of it. They can send an informational DVD about our dominance in the modern era, how from 1970 on we were the most consistent winner in the country. And perhaps a few kids will get swayed by this. I really hope they do, because it's rare to find kids these days who respect the past. The point is, in an era where kids will go to Oregon because they have 4,214 differently uniform combinations to choose from, it's a yearly battle to stay relevant and continuously build the foundation of a program.
Which is why Saturday's game against Virginia Tech isn't just a "measuring stick," it's an opportunity to show off Nebraska's re-emergence to over half of the country, including many potential recruits in places like Georgia and Florida who may be sleeping on us right now and could use a reminder that the Big Red used to be a big deal, and that we're on our way to those kinds of teams again.
With the exception of Florida vs. Tennessee, I would argue that this game will be one of the more closely-followed matchups throughout the country, and the program can use that kind of boost right now. If we beat Tech on Saturday, it'll get people's attention. Then follow the crumbs......We potentially break into the top 15 based off of the media's penchant for once-mighty programs coming back....our next game is the 300th consecutive sellout in Lincoln, which will be mentioned on every show that plays the highlights from it. So then we're 4-0 with our next game being a nationally televised, prime-time Thursday night affair with Missouri. With that kind of momentum, the nation (and the recruits) will take notice.
That's why Virginia Tech is more than just a battle for relevance; it's a game that will go a long way in securing future bricks in the re-construction of NU's program, a program whose foundation is already looking pretty strong in just the second year of the Bo Pelini era.
Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster is known for his "lunch pail" defense, the idea being that they are going to work. The Hokie defense can bring their lunch pails to the game. The Blackshirts will bring the wood. And maybe in the process, the Huskers will pick up a few more bricks for that reconstruction project.