Illinois and Nebraska certainly aren’t two of the best teams in the Big Ten this season, but their game Saturday produced one of the best, but most awkward trick plays we’ve seen this year.
With a 28-10 halftime lead, Illinois got the ball to open the third quarter, and eventually found itself on 4th-and-8 on its own 31-yard line. Time to punt, right?
Well, as senior punter Blake Hayes took the snap, his teammates took off downfield and left him with an enormous amount of space to work with on the fake punt. And Nebraska had no idea how to respond.
Instead of putting it, Hayes took off to his right into an open field before shifting to the other side of the field around the 27-yard line.
Hayes seemed hesitant to run in any direction despite running largely by himself almost like he wasn’t comfortable with the ball.
Was he simply nervous? Was this an audible? Did he have so much room he didn’t know what to do with it all? Would Hayes just really prefer to punt and nothing else? Who knows, but it didn’t really matter where he went because only one Cornhusker was in his general vicinity for most of this trick play.
Hayes picked up 14 yards and brought Illinois up to its own 45-yard line before getting tackled out of bounds. Illinois ultimately settled for a field goal to take a 31-10 lead early in the third quarter.
It’s funny and weird and entertaining, but hey, it worked. And college football Twitter loved it but was also a little perplexed, understandably.