ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Auburn photo by Todd Van Emst / Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix prepares to throw the winning touchdown pass during last Saturday night's 27-21 victory over Oregon.

For all the father-son comparisons that will be made between former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix and current Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, providing an instant impact will be a tough similarity to top.

Midway through the third quarter of the 1993 Iron Bowl, sophomore Patrick Nix replaced injured senior starter Stan White and completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Frank Sanders on fourth-and-15. The surprising score cut Alabama's lead to 14-12, and the Tigers would produce the final 17 points of a 22-14 win that capped an 11-0 season.

Fast-forward to last Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, and Patrick Nix watched from the crowd as his son threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Seth Williams with nine seconds remaining to propel the No. 16 Tigers to a riveting 27-21 triumph over No. 11 Oregon. Auburn scored the final 21 points against the Ducks, giving Bo Nix a dream-like outcome in his inaugural start as a true freshman.

"I would have never thought the game would have ended like that, to be honest, especially the first one," Bo Nix said late Saturday night in a news conference. "We would not have been in the situation had the defense not played out of their minds in the second half. After the first quarter, they gave up seven points, and that's a huge defensive stand for any team. So we just really had all the momentum in the second half.

"They got us a huge fourth-down stop, and we started moving the ball. We got the ball back with two minutes. Finally, it was our turn to make a play, and thankfully we did it."

Auburn had a chance to win the game 23-21 with a potential 43-yard Anders Carlson field-goal attempt, but seventh-year Tigers coach Gus Malzahn instead put the game in the hands of his 6-foot-2, 207-pounder from the Birmingham suburb of Pinson.

"What does it say about a freshman who's willing to make that play?" said Auburn redshirt sophomore running back Boobie Whitlow, who rushed for 110 yards. "Coming into the game, I was like, 'I hope Bo doesn't let this big-game atmosphere get to him,' but when he came in and did that in a big game like this, it told me a lot.

"He really loves the game, and he really loves Auburn. Most quarterbacks go in there and freeze up, but not him."

Nix was Auburn's first freshman quarterback to start a season opener since Travis Tidwell in 1946, and his debut evening contained a pair of interceptions, including one in the red zone. He finished just 13-of-31 for 177 yards, but he was 4-of-6 on the winning drive and converted a fourth-and-3 with a 3-yard run.

The encore performance for Nix will take place inside Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night when the Tigers, now No. 10 in the Associated Press poll, take on Tulane. The Green Wave are coming off a 7-6 season and opened last Saturday with a 42-14 trouncing of Florida International.

"Everybody's got to improve, and that's really our message," Malzahn said Tuesday when asked about Nix during his weekly news conference. "Whether it's the quarterback, another player or a coach, we've all got to improve from week one to week two, and the good teams do that.

"At least he has a game under his belt now, and there are a lot of things that he knows he can be better at than he was the first game, so we all expect to improve."

Whatever transpires against the Green Wave won't replace one of the great first impressions in Auburn football history. Patrick Nix made one of those impressions a generation ago before posting a 17-5-1 record as the starter, but now it's his son who is instantly beloved on the Plains.

After all, Auburn's comeback from a 15-point deficit against Oregon was the program's largest since Cam Newton rallied the 2010 Tigers from a 24-0 hole at Alabama to a 28-27 victory.

"I love Bo, and I told him that before the game," Auburn junior defensive end Big Kat Bryant said Saturday night. "He's meant to be here. I had no doubt in him."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT