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Legend of Bo Nix Begins in Auburn's Improbable Comeback Win over Oregon

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystSeptember 1, 2019

Auburn QB Bo Nix
Auburn QB Bo NixRon Jenkins/Associated Press

Brace yourself for the next several years of "Bo knows football" tweets because AP No. 16 Auburn's true freshman quarterback, Bo Nix, showed something special in Saturday night's 27-21 come-from-behind victory over No. 11 Oregon in Arlington, Texas.

Earlier in the week, Tim Tebow said on ESPN that God made Nix for Gus Malzahn's offense.

Divine intervention might be the best explanation for how Auburn got this crucial victorysomewhat salvaging a dreadful opening weekend for the SEC.

Oregon should have won in blowout fashion. The Ducks scored touchdowns on two of their first three drives and would've gone 3-of-3 if not for Bryan Addison's dropped pass, which hit him square in the chest in the back of the end zone. Oregon later had a huge punt return to begin another drive inside the Auburn 10. It also picked off Nix twice while keeping the Tigers from finding the end zone for the first 40 minutes.

Were it not for the score displayed on the colossal Jumbotron inside Jerry World, it would have felt like Oregon was up by at least three possessions at halftime.

In reality, it was just an eight-point game, 14-6, as the Ducks left the door wide-open for the first chapter of Nix's legend at Auburn to be written.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 31: Bo Nix #10 of the Auburn Tigers carries the ball against the Oregon Ducks in the second quarter during the Advocare Classic at AT&T Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Oregon would add another touchdown early in the third quarter, further increasing the improbability of a Nix-led rally. With less than five minutes remaining in the third, Auburn was down 21-6 with a starting quarterback who was 6-of-21 for 91 yards with a pair of interceptions.

That's a passer efficiency rating of 45.9, which—just to be clearis quite bad.

In the span of four drives in the second quarter, Nix:

  • Attempted a horribly ill-advised pass, running to his left and throwing across his body to hand Thomas Graham Jr. one of the easiest interceptions of his career;
  • Fumbled a snap (and luckily fell on it) because he tried to both pull and look away too early;
  • Threw another ill-advised pass into a sea of Ducks jerseys on a third-down play from the Oregon 7; and
  • Tossed a brutal, underthrown arm punt of an interception on the sixth of eight consecutive incomplete pass attempts.

Less than two weeks ago, it was anyone's guess whether Nix or redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood would get the Game 1 start. And well into the third quarter, there were folks who were wondering if perhaps Gus Malzahn made the wrong decision.

Then, out of nowhere, 247Sports' top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class started to sizzle.

Nix ran the uptempo offense to perfection, catching Oregon off guard in the middle of substitutions to hit an uncovered Eli Stove for his first career passing touchdown. Two possessions later, Nix jump-started what would be a JaTarvious Whitlow-heavy TD drive with a 21-yard strike up the right sideline to Sal Cannella. Gatewood finished it off with a one-yard run.

That brought the Tigers back to within 21-20 and set the stage for a game-winning drive that Auburn fans won't forget anytime soon.

Shortly after scrambling for a fourth-down conversion by a matter of inches, Nix found Seth Williams on back-to-back plays to seal the deal. The first was a 13-yard completion on 3rd-and-10 that put Auburn into reasonable field-goal range for Anders Carlson. The second was a 26-yard touchdown that eliminated the stress of a do-or-die field-goal attempt.

Throughout the comeback, Nix looked nothing like a true freshman. He played with poise and confidence beyond his years, making it hard to comprehend that this was the same guy who appeared to have been irreparably rattled for the entire the second quarter.

During the postgame press conference, Malzahn said of Nix, "When the game was on the line, he found a way to win the game."

Alex Gold🎙 @AlexGold

#Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on his QB Bo Nix. https://t.co/ye73iyvM7k

Given the unreal difficulty of Auburn's schedule, the Tigers will need plenty more of this from their young quarterback. They will play road games against Texas A&M, Florida and LSU before the end of October, followed by November home games against Georgia and Alabama.

Apologies for bringing up old wounds in #WDE country, but let's not forget that Auburn's emotional, come-from-behind, neutral-site, Week 1 victory over last year's Pac-12 favorite (Washington) wasn't enough to keep the Tigers from suffering five regular-season losses. They could easily be headed for a similar fate.

But the newfound hope in Toomer's Corner is that Nix will thrive where guys like Jarrett Stidham, Sean White and Jeremy Johnson always seemed like square pegs that were trying to fit into round holes.

Auburn's championship-caliber teams of the past decade were fueled by dual-threat quarterbacks Cam Newton and Nick Marshall. The "escapeability" that Nix showed against the Oregon blitz was unlike anything Auburn fans have watched in the past five years, and it must have them excited—not only for the next few months, but also for the next several seasons.

             

Kerry Miller covers college football and men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.

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