MattBob's Baseball Preview-Nebraska

The 11th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys (22-6) enters the weekend with Nebraska (17-11) riding an eight series win streak in Big 12 Conference play. The Cowboys currently sit atop the Big 12 standings with a conference record of 5-1, and owning the top team batting average and the second best ERA in the conference.

The Huskers enter the series much lower in the standings than projected early in the season. Nebraska was expected to finish third in the Big 12, giving Oklahoma State and Texas a run for their money, but is in eighth with a 3-6 record. Their talent has been under-performing all year. A very veteran lineup is currently last in the Big 12 with a .282 batting average.

Rebel Ridling learned Monday that he had been selected as this week's Big 12 Player of the Week. He was honored for his hitting in the sweep of Baylor. The sophomore went 8-for-13 with two home runs. Rebel joined Corey Brown, Oliver Odle and Justin Friend as OSU winners this season.

One of the untold stories this season has been the outstanding defense exhibited by the Cowboys. The Cowboys rank third in the Big 12 in defense with just 28 errors, while turning 31 double plays. This is especially good considering the amount of time they've been without the services of shortstop Jordy Mercer, who has only played in six games.

The key to the series may come down to starting pitching. Cowboy starting pitchers have struggled early in conference season, and have been unstable with the absence of Matt Gardner, who is said to have arm tenderness.

The Husker starting pitchers have been decent, but remain unsupported. Friday starter Tony Watson has been dialed in the last two weeks, but has not had much in the way of run support. Saturday starter Johnny Dorn is very talent and can give the Huskers a quality start on any given night. However, he can also implode very easily.

Frank Anderson's team looks to continue their series winning streak. To expect anything near a sweep would be asking for a lot. Nebraska has managed to go 1-2 in each of its previous series this year and the Cornhuskers are playing better every week. As long as the Cowboys do not beat themselves and can get starting pitch that limits the Huskers offense, they should be in a position to win every game. With this bullpen and these bats they should be able to take the series, and that's all anyone can ask.

The weather in Lincoln has already played an impact on the series. Due to forecasted temperatures well below baseball playing level, the game times have been adjusted. Instead of the series beginning on Thursday evening and running through Saturday, the series will now begin Friday afternoon at 2:05 p.m., with the other two games to be played on Saturday and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

The series video will be carried on MVP as a part of Nebraska and Oklahoma State's continued content exchange, dating back to this season's basketball game. For those out without a MVP subscription, the games will be carried on 93.7 FM and online at www.okstate.com

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