The busy week continues for Nebraska (21-11, 10-2 Big Ten). The Huskers are right in the middle of a stretch that includes five games in six days.
After splitting mid-week matchups with Kansas State and Nebraska-Omaha, Nebraska is on the road for a weekend series with Iowa (21-14, 7-5 Big Ten). The Hawkeyes are one of the better teams in the Big Ten and will present plenty of challenges for Nebraska. That includes a little bit of history between the two programs.
“I don't know if it's a rivalry series because of football but both teams always bring it and it’s going to be a dog fight,” senior Angelo Altavilla said on Thursday.
Are Nebraska and Iowa rivals? If you’re looking for an answer, it won’t come from coach Darin Erstad. When he was an athlete at Nebraska, he approached every game the same.
“To be completely honest, I hated everybody,” Erstad said.
He also said he has no stance on the rivalry talk because he doesn't want any outside factors to affect how the Huskers go about their business.
“If we have to look for reasons to get up for a game, we’ve got problems,” Erstad said.
With that said, Nebraska is pretty happy with where they are in the Big Ten right now. The Huskers’ 10-2 record in conference play sits at the top of the Big Ten.
“You can’t ask for much better than 10-2,” Altavilla said. “I think we are right where we need to be right now.”
Nebraska is halfway through conference play and controls its own destiny. The schedule certainly doesn't get easier with conference matchups against Iowa, Illinois and Michigan, plus a non-conference matchup with Arizona State sandwiched in the middle.
This is the time of year where the pretenders are separated from contenders. Both Altavilla and Erstad said it comes down to controlling the things you can control and not becoming complacent. Going 2-1 in a series versus 3-0 can be the difference in winning a conference championship.
Coaches and players don't like to bring up the 2018 season, but it’s clear they’re much happier and having more fun one year later. It’s always more fun when you’re on the top of your conference after all, and Nebraska hopes to keep it that way this weekend.
The three game series with Iowa begins Friday with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.