Bo Nix will always have last week’s throw to beat Oregon as a part of his Auburn legacy. That is a pretty remarkable thought to say about a true freshman, but that comeback and that play certainly call for it.
Now the question is this: in four years how is that play talked about on The Plains? Is it a simply great play that people will remember forever, or is it the introduction to one of the all-time great careers for a Tiger quarterback?
Bo certainly hopes the latter, and so does the Tigers' fanbase.
The Opelika-Auburn News has had comments made by readers on social media in the last couple weeks alleging that Nix was handed the starting spot because his father, Patrick Nix, was the quarterback here and that this is somehow a big case of AU nepotism. That assertion seems nothing short of crazy to me.
The ESPN300 recruiting rankings had Nix as the second-rated 2019 quarterback in the nation behind only Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz. The 247 Sports rankings and Rivals rankings had him second as well, behind Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler in these versions.
If anything, it was Auburn which benefited from the Nix family’s relationship with Auburn and not the other way around. If not for his fandom and respect for the school, it would have been likely that Nix, who had every major football power in the nation offering him, may have left The Plains.
By all accounts, the quarterback competition between Nix and redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood was just that: a competition. Gatewood was widely considered the early favorite, but as that first game approached, Nix gained more and more steam until Gus Malzahn finally made the announcement.
With all that said, the first half of Nix’s Tiger debut went about as poorly as it could have. The opening drive was a three-and-out with Nix throwing an incompletion on third down.
The second drive started strong with a picture-perfect throw to Will Hastings for 38 yards and then a 19-yard run by Nix. It fizzled with a pair of incompletions and resulted in a field goal.
On the third drive, a Nix pass to Harold Joiner for 28 yards got the team in scoring position again, but an inaccurate throw was intercepted and killed that drive.
Truth be told, if Oregon hadn’t squandered chances with a dropped pass in the end zone, a missed short field goal and a fumble, then the Tigers aren’t in the game to allow Nix to make the plays down the stretch to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. In fact, Nix himself may not even be in the game anymore if the Tigers were down 28-3 instead of 14-3 in the first half.
However, when some fans were likely clamoring for Gatewood, Malzahn stuck with his true freshman and Nix delivered in the biggest moment of the game.
Now the next step for Nix is to build on that and create a whole game that looks more like the fourth quarter rather than the first three.
A final line of 13-for-31, 177 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions is fine for a debut, especially when you can end it like he did. However, a completion percentage hovering just over 40 percent and two interceptions a game isn’t going to cut it if the Tigers are going to live up to the top-ten ranking they have now earned.
Nix made a loud statement in his first game. Now is where history determines if that was the first chapter in the career of a legend or if it is simply a fleeting moment of greatness.
Chapter 2 is written tonight at Jordan-Hare as the Green Wave rolls in.
Jon Dykstra is the sports editor of the Opelika-Auburn News.