- Mitch Sherman, ESPN Staff Writer
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Who would have guessed a year ago that Nebraska coach Bo Pelini would find himself embroiled in a controversy in September over an audiotape that sat harmless nearly for two years?
Or that Randy Gregory would show up on campus in August out of junior college, where he didn’t play last year, and turn into the Big Ten’s most feared pass rusher?
Or that that Ron Kellogg III, the third-string former walk-on, fifth-year senior quarterback, in the first game-deciding moment of his career, would produce a play for the ages that may have saved the Huskers from a .500 season or worse?
Or that Ameer Abdullah would make Nebraska fans forget about Rex Burkhead? OK, that didn’t happen, but Abdullah’s 1,568 rushing yards -- the most by a Husker since 1997 -- behind a group of offensive linemen who couldn’t field a full unit for practice after Nov. 1, was almost as unlikely.
In the always interesting world of Nebraska football, reality is often better than the stuff of imagination. So with that, here are 10 predictions (some serious and some not) for 2014:
1. Pelini will be lauded in February for the Huskers’ signing of a group of recruits that promises to reinforce the defense with immediate help out of junior college. The coach’s critics will point to a mediocre class ranking.
2. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong will dazzle in the Red-White game, running a basic offense unlikely to resemble the system in the fall designed to fit his strengths.
4. Rumblings out of the conditioning drills of the summer will focus on the leadership attributes and work ethic of Johnny Stanton, Nebraska’s solid No. 2 QB after his strong spring.
5. Several reported sightings will go unconfirmed at Nebraska’s season opener of Carl Pelini, older brother of Bo and former coach at Florida Atlantic. The Huskers will beat the Owls 49-3, the same score from their meeting in 2009.
6. Nebraska will lose at Fresno State. Speculation about Bo Pelini’s job status will resume.
7. Athletic director Shawn Eichorst will work remotely from Alaska in the week before the Huskers face Miami, his former school. A group of Nebraska fans who live in the state will foil his attempt to avoid detection. Eichorst will decline comment.
8. The Huskers will beat Miami and open Big Ten play with a homecoming win over Illinois and a victory as a 10-point road underdog over Michigan State, arguably Pelini’s biggest win in seven seasons. After a bye week, Nebraska will lose at Northwestern as Armstrong’s Hail Mary is knocked down.
9. Abdullah, in the season’s eighth game, will become the first Nebraska back to post a third 1,000-yard season as Rutgers as fails to avenge its 1920 loss to the Huskers at the Polo Grounds.
10. Nebraska will lose at Wisconsin in overtime, then win out to claim a share of the Big Ten West. The Badgers will get the trip to Indianapolis via the tiebreaker as the Huskers celebrate Pelini’s sixth nine-win season in seven years and point to three losses by a combined 17 points as a sign of progress.