The Arkansas Razorbacks are always welcome in Lincoln. Dave Van Horn, the Bob Devaney of Nebraska baseball, may have left the Cornhusker Statefor Fayetteville, but it's still a treat to see him in a familiar dugout, even if it's the opposition's.
Considering how the Huskers' season has gone, to win one game of last Tuesday's double-header against then-No. 10 Arkansas would've been big. No one expected a sweep. Then again, no one knew what Kyle Kubat would bring to the mound.
A solid effort? Absolutely. A stellar outing? Sure, why not? A no-hitter? Those are Florida Gulf Coast to the Final Four odds.
Yet here we are, days after Kubat's historic first performance of the season, and Nebraska fans are still pinching themselves.
The Big Red couldn't buy a win to begin the year, let alone a victory against a Top 25 team.
Kubat comes back, and not only does No. 10 fall twice in one day, but the pitching that has been so inconsistent suddenly syncs beautifully. Now, Nebraska's goals all seem reachable and the Huskers' 16-19 overall record looks like a temporary rut.
With the Waterloo, NE native pitching, these Huskers look whole again. They play like a cohesive unit, the kind of team that should be feared not only by the Big Ten, but nonconference opponents. A Kansas State team travelling to Lincoln, for example.
Perhaps even Creighton or Oklahoma State, maybe even in a regional, but that cart's so far in front of the horse, it's not visible on the horizon.
Nebraska hits the road to take on Purdue (11-22 overall, 4-8 Big Ten) this weekend, a team on a six-game losing streak. Will the Huskers sweep the series? Probably. Should they win it? If they don't, it'll be a severe disappointment.
As of now, Kubat's not scheduled to take the mound again until Sunday, a scary proposition for a Boilermaker squad knotted up at 1-1 in the series, and terrifying if trailing 0-2.
His return couldn't have come at a better time.
The Huskers will be taking on the Big Ten's best over the month of May in Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. They also trip to Omaha for their final tilt with Creighton for good measure.
Before Tuesday, that would've seemed like a death sentence. Now, it's a difficult road, but if the Big Red can take down a top ten SEC power twice in one day, it can topple the Big Ten's best.
Husker fans have a reason to feel good. Cautious, yes, but optimism is optimism.
No one's penciling in the Huskers for a trip to Omaha in June, but if Dunk City can get to the Sweet 16, who's to say the Big Red can't make a deep regional run?
Kubat gave Nebraska's pitching staff another punch. It's time to see if Ted Silva is coaching Balboa or Tyson.