The Illinois Fighting Illini kicked off the 2021 college football season by benefitting from a special teams snafu with a safety. The botched punt return by Nebraska gave new head coach Bret Bielema his first two points of his tenure in Champaign. The Big Ten is back baby!
The safety was the first bit of action to transpire in the conference opener after both teams traded punts to begin the contest. After Illini quarterback Brandon Peters was sacked on third down, they brought out punter Blake Hayes to punt on fourth and 17.
That’s where calamity ensued as Cornhusker returner Cam Taylor-Britt muffed the punt, resulting in his team going into an early 2-0 hole. Nebraska would get break on the following Illinois drive when James McCourt missed a 55-yard field goal attempt that would’ve put them up 5-0 early in the afternoon. We’ll see if there’s any more special teams disasters in this one,