Brent Yarina, Senior Editor, December 27, 2014

Believe it or not, 2015 is almost here. With that in mind, it's time to take a look at one guy's top 5 football/basketball surprises of 2014.

See my top 5 below.

1. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State. Nobody expected this after Braxton Miller went down with a season-ending shoulder injury. How could a freshman – even a redshirt freshman – replace the two-time reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year? As crazy as it sounds, Barrett more than replaced Miller, leading the Big Ten in QB rating (169.8), touchdown passes (34) and total touchdowns accounted for (45) on his way to leading the Buckeyes to the inaugural Big Ten East Division title and earning All-Big Ten Ten first-team honors.

2. Nebraska basketball. The 2013-14 unit, that is. Tim Miles' team was picked to finish in the Big Ten basement. Instead, the Cornhuskers were one of the Big Ten's top stories, regardless of sport. Behind Terran Petteway's breakout season, Nebraska won seven of its final eight games to finish 11-7 in the Big Ten. The hot finish resulted in a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament and the team's first NCAA tourney appearance since 1998.

3. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin. Here are Kaminsky's 2012-13 sophomore stats: 4.2 ppg and 1.8 rebounds in 32 games, including two starts. That's hardly the makings of an All-Big Ten performer. But, just like so many Bo Ryan bigs before him, Kaminsky took advantage of his opportunity in 2013-14 and finished the season averaging 13.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, all while shooting 53 percent. It all started with the program-record 43-point outburst in mid-November, and Kaminsky used that effort to fuel his All-Big Ten first-team campaign and to lead the Badgers to their first Final Four since 2000.

4. Penn State football defense. Everybody knows all about the scholarship restrictions that affect Penn State's talent and depth. It didn't matter in 2014, as the Nittany Lions, sans Da'Quan Jones and Glenn Carson, two of their biggest stars from 2013, boasted one of the nation's premier units. Penn State finished No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards (1,017), No. 2 in yards per game (269.8) and touchdowns (20) and No. 6 in points per game (17.7). And, on it goes. Making all of this even more impressive, the Nittany Lions excelled on defense without much help from an offense that never got on track.

5. Wisconsin basketball. Bo Ryan's teams always finish among the top of the Big Ten, but there was some doubt about whether the Badgers could do it in 2013-14, having lost starters Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans. The Badgers were just fine, jumping out to a program-best 16-0 record en route to finishing second in the Big Ten and advancing to the Final Four for the first time since 2000.