AUBURN, Ala. – Bo Nix is getting thrust right into the fire as Auburn’s new quarterback.
Just like his father, nearly 26 years ago.
The 16th-ranked Tigers’ freshman is set to make his college debut Saturday against No. 11 Oregon in Arlington, Texas, in a nationally televised game with ESPN’s College GameDay in town for the game.
“I guess it’s as good as you can write up, but College GameDay for a freshman walking in … some people view that as tough, but I kind of see it as fun just because it’s what you prepare for,” Nix said. “I mean, why else would you play if you can’t play at the highest atmosphere, environment and all that stuff? It will be fun, and we’ll be ready to go.”
At least he had significant warning before being thrust into such a high-stress situation. His dad and high school coach, Patrick Nix, came off the bench for Auburn in the 1993 Iron Bowl, facing fourth-and-15 after a knee injury to starter Stan White.
Patrick Nix responded with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Frank Sanders to spark a come-from-behind, 22-14 win over rival Alabama and complete an 11-0 season for an Auburn team that was ineligible for the postseason. He then took over the starting job the following season.
This won’t necessarily be quite so dramatic.
Bo Nix arrived at Auburn as the nation’s top-rated dual threat quarterback, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Then he beat out redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood for the starting job in preseason camp.
Auburn hasn’t started a freshman quarterback in a season opener since Travis Tidwell in 1946. That streak will end against the Pac-12 North favorites.
“It’s as big as it gets,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said. “We need to be really good around him. That’s really been our message. I’m just asking him to play and to be himself, and we’re going to try to do some things he feels comfortable with. We’re taking in a game plan that really is a lot built around him, what his comfort zone is and everything that goes with it.
“I’m excited for Bo. I know our team is. He’s earned the right to lead us out there, and we’ll see what happens.”
The good news for Nix is he has five fifth-year seniors blocking for him on the offensive line, along with a fairly experienced group of receivers and tailbacks. He is also a running threat on designed QB runs or if plays break down.
“He does not play like an 18-year old kid,” Auburn right tackle Jack Driscoll said. “He really took control during camp.”
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