Welcome to Auburn, Bo Nix.
The freshman QB threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Seth Williams with nine seconds left as No. 11 Auburn stunned No. 16 Oregon 27-21 in Dallas on Saturday night.
The 26-yard TD pass came as Auburn was almost certainly playing for a field goal and a potential 23-21 win. But Auburn coach Gus Malzan — calling the offensive plays for the first time in years — decided to keep going for it despite having no timeouts remaining and Nix found Williams in single coverage at the goal line.
The win was a surprise because Oregon controlled much of the game. But Auburn’s defense kept it in it in the second half as Oregon and potential No. 1 draft choice QB Justin Herbert couldn’t get any scoreboard separation.
Herbert and Oregon did have a final chance to win the game with three seconds left after a fantastic kickoff return. But Herbert overthrew the end zone entirely on a last-second pass.
Auburn beat Washington to start 2018
It’s the second straight season where Auburn has knocked off a Pac-12 opponent and the Tigers’ win otherwise salvaged what was a terrible day for the SEC.
“I think you’ll see that team win a whole lot of games and I think we’re one of the best teams in the country,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told ESPN.
Auburn beat Washington to start the 2018 season in a game that effectively ended any hope of the Pac-12 making the College Football Playoff. It’s hard not to think the same thing after Saturday night’s game. Oregon might have been the conference’s best shot at a playoff spot and now the Ducks are 0-1.
It’s also hard to not think about Malzahn’s job status at Auburn either. That elephant in the room takes up way too much space at this point but the win is huge for the Tigers’ confidence heading into the rest of the 2019 season. Auburn has games against Alabama, Georgia and LSU on the schedule and will need to come up with some sorcery to navigate one of the toughest schedules in the nation without a couple of losses or more.
But Saturday night was a huge test passed. Even if it wasn’t pretty at all.
Oregon led 21-6
The Ducks took a 21-6 lead with just over nine minutes to go in the third quarter when Darrian Felix scored. Auburn’s defense clamped down from there. And the offense was just good enough to claw back with three touchdowns over the final 20 minutes of the game.
Nix’s first start was rocky. He was just 13-of-31 passing for 177 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. But he ran the ball effectively (seven carries for 42 yards) and complimented JaTarvious Whitlow, who had 24 carries for 110 yards.
Nix, whose father played at Auburn in the 1990s, arrived at Auburn this year as a five-star recruit. He won the QB competition in August and became the first true freshman QB to start the season-opener for the Tigers since just after World War II.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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