Nebraska dominated play through much of its 37-27 win against Purdue on Saturday, but things got tight late as the the Boilermakers scored on a broken play early in the fourth quarter to make it a seven-point game.
Nebraska chewed up some clock and tacked on a field goal to make it 37-27 with just over seven minutes on the clock — plenty of time for two scoring drives for Purdue. A holding penalty, pass for no gain and a pass for 7 yards set the Boilermakers up with third-and-13 — a spot where Nebraska’s defense has actually struggled this season. Not this time though.
Cam Taylor-Britt stepped up and made this week’s Play of the Game.
Look at @CamTaylorBritt5 fly to break it up on 3rd down. 😲
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) December 5, 2020
On the far side of the field, Dicaprio Bootle lined up with a cushion. On the boundary side, however, Taylor-Britt lined up tight with David Bell. On the snap, Nebraska sent four after the quarterback and the Purdue offensive line held up.
Jack Plummer quickly went through his progressions and then locked in on Bell. The wideout gave Taylor-Britt a bit of a stutter-step and cut to his inside, working up the field. Plummer hesitated than let it go.
Taylor-Britt was running stride-for-stride with Bell, but the receiver was slightly ahead of him. The junior managed to turn his head back and look without breaking stride, tracking the ball through the air. It was a decent ball from Plummer who attempted to lay the ball in over the top through a tight window, but Taylor-Britt timed it perfectly and showed off some serious athleticism, elevating and extending to break up the pass and force a punt.
“I just knew they wanted to get him the ball,” Taylor-Britt said. “That’s one of their playmakers outside of Rondale Moore and I just knew with me playing outside, they were going to test that one-on-one. That’s the second-best player on their team.”
Nebraska chewed up just over three minutes of game clock after the Purdue punt before turning the ball back over on downs, but Purdue went four-and-out and Nebraska closed out the game in victory formation.
Taylor-Britt made almost an identical play in Nebraska’s first win of the season, breaking up a pass intended for standout Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson in a similar fashion with the elevation and full extension.
Bell caught 10 passes for 132 yards in the game, but 89 of those yards and his only touchdown came on the broken play where safety Marquel Dismuke ran into Taylor-Britt and took him out while trying to break up a deep pass to Bell. His other nine receptions — on 13 targets — went for 43 yards (4.8 yards per completion). Moore, the team’s star wideout, turned 16 targets and 13 receptions into just 78 yards (6.0 yards per catch).
“He’s one of our better players,” Frost said about Taylor-Britt. “He’s been a good leader for us. We can count on him. We went down and got him as a quarterback coming out of high school and we saw something in him … Those guys have some really good wideouts, really good skill, and you’re never going to stop them but I thought we did a decent job containing them.”
Nebraska allowed conversions on nearly 50% of opponents’ third downs in the first five games of the season, and a good number of them were in third-and-long situations. On Saturday, the Huskers held the Boilermakers to 3-of-13 on third downs and 1-of-3 on fourth downs.
Taylor-Britt added another pass breakup on Purdue’s final drive and also finished with six tackles (three solo) including one for loss. He also had a great punt return early in the game after the the muffed punt last week against Iowa.
That first pass breakup showed off how special Taylor-Britt can be and it came at a critical point in the game, however, and that’s why it’s this week’s Play of the Game.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.