August 31st, 2019. The day the chaos officially kicked off and the great race for the College Football Playoff would begin. On that Saturday I go out of bed like most college football fans and turned on College Gameday. I was paying extra attention to this episode because it turned out I would be going to the game.
Later that night Auburn and Oregon would play at AT&T Stadium home of the Cowboys. Auburn would be playing their brand new freshman QB in Bo Nix against the future first-round pick in Justin Herbert. Bo’s first game would be on a neutral site against the 11h best team in the nation. The pressure was mounting on the young QB as the kickoff approached
And it would show especially early in the game. After Oregon marched down the field and scored a TD, Auburn went 3 and out to open the ball game. After a missed Oregon field goal and Auburn would have another chance to get the offense going.
Nix would start the drive on fire, throwing a 38 yard dime to Will Hastings which would get Auburn to Oregon 42. After a 19 yard Nix scramble they offense would stall at the Oregon 22. On 2nd and 9, Nix would have a shot at the endzone. With plenty of time in the pocket, Nix sees a wide open Hastings but overthrows him. Now it was 3rd down, the thought of a missed TD lingered in Bo’s mind as the next play approached. This time Oregon sent pressure. Nix immediately saw it and started scrambling to his right. As he starts moving he puts his head down and by the time he can throw it no one is open. He would have to throw it away here, but if you watch the play unfold the RB opens up on a little out route. If Nix looked up immediately this could have been an option. Unfortuenly this didn’t happen and the Tigers had to settle for a field goal.
The next time Auburn got the ball they would drive to about midfield before the end of the first, the score, Oregon 14 Auburn 3.
After some great offense from Nix and Tigers, Auburn would have the ball on Oregon 15 on a 2nd and 13. The play was a designed QB rollout to the left and then NIx would have his pick on what to do next. As soon as Nix started moving so did the Oregon outside d linemen. Although Nix had time he still would have to choose which receiver he wanted to throw a risky ball in traffic to. What Nix didn’t see is that Oregon was in Man to Man which means every player on defense is responsible for a player on offense. The two Auburn receivers were close to each other with the defender playing in between them, covering Stove who was running an out route. Then there was Williams who was running next to them, with his defender playing behind him. Nix reads the first defender in between and throws the ball behind Williams, away from the Oregon defender. Although Nix throws this ball out of Williams’s reach and is picked off by the Oregon defender.
Later in the quarter, Nix would throw a great pass to Cannella to the Auburn 40. The drive would stall here and Nix would throw a bad pass on third down to lead Auburn to the punt. Williams was the intended target, and he was double covered.
The punt return came all the way back to the Auburn 7 before Herbert bobbled the snap and Auburn defense scooped up the ball and returned it to the Oregon 5. From there the offense took over losing 4 yards before facing a 3rd and goal from the Oregon 7. From there pressure would get to Nix as he rolled left then right luckily avoiding defenders before throwing a terrible pass into the end zone. Auburn would settle for a field goal to end the drive. Later in the quarter, Nix would throw another pick and a missed field goal would end the half and the score was 14-6.
To start the 3rd, the Auburn offense just couldn’t get going. They couldn’t get the ball past midfield and would end up punting on their first two possessions of the quarter.
Jump to the third quarter with 4:23 to go, the Auburn offense drove the ball down to the Oregon 11. Bo reads the defense and notices that they aren’t completely set. He quickly goes through his snap counts and fires the ball to Eli Stove. Stove dodged a defender a then walked into the end zone. The score at the end of the 3rd was 21-13
Next, it was 2nd and 13, with 12:06 on the clock, Nix could be facing a 3rd and long with an incompletion here. Instead, Bo stays calm goes through his progressions and hits a wide open Cannella on the Ducks sideline. Cannella gets open by coming out of the backfield and running up the sideline. This confuses the Ducks man to man defense and leaves him open. This play would ultimately shift the momentum to Auburn and they would score to finish the drive. Score: 21-20
The momentum stayed Auburn’s way as it was Ducks ball around the 40 yard line. It was 4th and inches with 5 minutes to go the Tigers swarmed Ducks running back in the backfield. Unfortunately, the Auburn offense couldn’t get going once again and they were forced to punt. But once again Auburn’s defense came through holding Oregon again.
After a terrible punt, it was Auburn’s ball down by one with 2:05 to go. This was it, it was do and die for Nix and the Auburn offense. But Nix didn’t let that get to him, he was cool under the pressure. After a 4th down conversion from Nix on the ground, Auburn was starting to feel it. You could tell by the crowd which was absolutely deafening. With 21 seconds to go, it was 3rd and 10 at the Oregon 39, field goal range for the Tigers was at the 35. Everyone on both sides of the stadium held their breath as the game was coming down to this. Bo took the snap, took two steps back, then jumped back up and fired on the left sideline. There was Williams who caught the ball then went out of bounds with the first down. Now Auburn had no pressure as they were in field goal range at the 26 of Oregon. Although I don’t think Nix really cared. He got up to the line, got the snap, and fired the ball down right sideline now. The ball was a little underthrown, but that would end up helping as Williams as he grabbed it and dove into the endzone. Score 26-21 Game Over.
In his first game as a freshman college QB, Nix stood up to pressure when it looked him in the face. This one game shows the promise of the young QB and what could be the next Auburn great.
Top picture from yahoosports.com by Yahoo Sports.