Huskers' bumpy ride ends with another 9-win season

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 2, 2014 at 1:27 pm •  Published: January 2, 2014
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From the historic collapse against UCLA and Bo Pelini flare-ups to the Hail Mary win over Northwestern and bowl victory over Georgia, the emotions ran the gamut for Nebraska.

In the end, the Cornhuskers put together another nine-win season and head into 2014 with a positive vibe.

"It's been a long season," defensive end Randy Gregory said after Wednesday's 24-19 win in Jacksonville, Fla. "We've fought through a lot of stuff, a lot of adversity with our coach. We came together in the end."

The Huskers (9-4) joined Oregon and Alabama as the only programs on a streak of at least six straight seasons of nine wins or more. It's possible, however, that they'll finish outside the final Top 25 for the first time since 2008.

Nebraska will be glad to hit the re-set button after the wild ride that was 2013.

Record-setting quarterback Taylor Martinez appeared in only four games because of a foot injury. That left redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. to learn on the fly, and he responded with seven wins in eight starts.

Martinez was still playing when the Huskers experienced the biggest meltdown in the 90-year history of Memorial Stadium, losing 41-21 to UCLA after leading 21-3. Two days later, a 2-year-old, expletive-filled audio of Pelini ripping Nebraska fans and media surfaced on the sports website Deadspin.

Pelini apologized for the tirade picked up by a hot microphone before his postgame radio interview, and there was a month of relative calm. The fans became restless again when an obviously injured Martinez came back to play against Minnesota and the Huskers lost.

Martinez didn't play again. The next week Nebraska beat Northwestern on third-string QB Ron Kellogg III's 49-yard Hail Mary to Jordan Westerkamp, and the good feelings continued when the Huskers won at Michigan.

The Huskers played eventual Rose Bowl champion Michigan State on even terms in Lincoln but committed five turnovers and lost 41-28. An overtime win in the snow against Penn State was followed by a 21-point loss at home to Iowa that looked as if it would do in Pelini.

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