For the second consecutive season, the Huskers took care of business against inferior opponents prior to taking on Virginia Tech. The Huskers are unbeaten and untested. So how much do we know about this year's Nebraska squad? Not much. But if we compare the Huskers' stats coming into the Virginia Tech game the last two years, we can see the Huskers are a better team at this point this year than last year. Stats are from CFBStats.com.
(Off - Offense; Def - Defense; PPG - points per game; YPP - yards per play; YPC - yards per carry; YPA - yards per pass attempt)
The Huskers faced one more opponent in 2008 before playing the Hokies. Their opening opponent in 2008, Western Michigan, was better than the other four we're looking at for these stats. The Broncos rolled up 24 points, which makes 2008's defensive PPG so much higher than 2009's.
Offensively, the Huskers are on equal footing with last year's team in the passing game. That says a lot because they are missing their starting QB and top two receivers from 2008. The rushing game has improved. I'm really not surprised by this because I think their offensive line is better than last year and I'm a big fan of their primary running back, Roy Helu, Jr.
Defensively, the Huskers are giving up more yards per carry this year. That can somewhat be explained again by last year's Western Michigan team, which had 8 yards on 25 carries. Also, the Huskers have downgraded at linebacker this year compared to 2008.
On paper, you would think this year's Nebraska team is worse than last year's because of what it lost (especially on offense). However the stats say this is a better team. I think that as well. Nebraska returns key cogs such as Ndamukong Suh and Helu. The X-factor is Pelini and his staff who likely have this team in better football shape after having a full year with them.