Raise your hand if you had doubt about two minutes into the game.
Raise your hand if you had doubt when Oregon ran that punt back.
Raise your hand if you had doubt when Auburn fell behind 21-6.
Me too. It looked bad. To say that Auburn was in midseason form tonight would’ve been a bold-faced lie. At times, every facet of the team played about as poorly as can be. Bo Nix threw two interceptions in the first half, the defense got gashed for 176 yards and 14 points in the first quarter, and the coverage units allowed multiple big returns while Anders Carlson missed what could have been a crucial field goal.
In the end, none of that mattered. Auburn persevered. Three second-half touchdowns later, and the Tigers walked out of Arlington with a 27-21 victory over #11 Oregon. Something clicked. The fourth quarter was Auburn’s, and we watched the beginning of what could be the legend of all legends in the trial by fire of Bo Nix. His touchdown pass to Seth Williams with just nine seconds to play gave Auburn its first and only lead of the night, and set off a wild celebration at AT&T Stadium
Less than 10 months ago, Bo Nix was playing in front of a couple thousand people on a high school field in Pinson Valley, Alabama.— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 1, 2019
Tonight, Nix threw a game-winning TD pass in front of a capacity crowd on national television against the No. 11 ranked team.
WHAT. A. MOMENT. pic.twitter.com/0sKYFdieNp
Down 21-20, Auburn stuffed Oregon on fourth down and then forced a punt on two straight drives in the fourth quarter. With one more chance, the Tigers faced a fourth down of their own, and Bo Nix converted by inches on a tough run. A sideline pass to Seth Williams put Auburn in field goal range at the 26-yard line, but Gus Malzahn dialed up one shot to the end zone instead of setting up for the field goal.
Nix delivered. One-on-one coverage on Williams turned into a mismatch, and Williams cradled the ball, came down at the two, and fell backward across the goal line for the game-winning touchdown. After a celebration penalty, Oregon’s last ditch Hail Mary was thrown too far and Auburn survived in Texas.
It was a tale of two halves for Nix, who went just 6-18 for 91 yards and 2 interceptions before halftime. The offensive line wasn’t giving him time, and we weren’t able to see him settle in to make the right plays and decisions. He was clearly a bit rattled, but he calmed down in the second half. His numbers weren’t insane (7-14 for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns) but he led three scoring drives and the Auburn offense started to wear down a tenacious Oregon defense.
However, it didn’t look good to start. Oregon was rolling on both sides of the ball to start. Just a few plays in, Justin Herbert hit a big play to get the Ducks down near the goal line, and they scored the game’s first points on their opening drive. The second drive nearly ended with another touchdown, but a dropped pass in the end zone led to a missed field goal. Auburn cut the lead to 7-3 with their first points on a 6-play, 56-yard drive capped by a 40-yard Anders Carlson field goal with 3:17 to go in the first quarter.
Oregon turned right around and made a statement with the ensuing drive, as they went 75 yards in just 3 plays and added a 20-yard Herbert touchdown toss to Spencer Webb, who dominated Javaris Davis in the end zone on the catch.
Auburn hung on and escaped disaster after that in the first half, as Jevon Holland returned a punt 81 yards, but Big Kat Bryant scooped up a Herbert fumble on the next play and took it to the Oregon 3-yard line. Auburn ended up with a field goal on that drive and the score stood at 14-6 at halftime.
After the intermission, both defenses settled in, and Oregon seemed to land a critical knockout blow late in the third quarter with a 9-play, 53-yard touchdown drive capped by a scoring run from third-string tailback Darrian Felix. Fortunately for Auburn, fatigue was catching up to the Ducks, and the Tigers got Eli Stove involved in the game plan. His long jet sweep moved the ball inside the red zone, and Auburn caught Oregon napping on the first touchdown of the season as Stove sneaked out to fool the Ducks and stroll into the end zone on a pass from Nix. After three quarters, the score stood at 21-13 Oregon.
In the end, the fourth quarter turned out to belong to the Tigers. Boobee Whitlow turned in a masterful performance, running for tough yardage and pacing Auburn on two fourth quarter touchdown drives. He rumbled for 110 yards on 24 carries, and got Auburn down to the goal line before Joey Gatewood came in to dive over the top. With that touchdown, the Tigers pulled within a point at 21-20.
Then we got the dramatic finish. Auburn’s defense stood tall on two straight fourth quarter drives, forcing a turnover on downs (after which the offense went three-and-out), before forcing a punt that set up the game-winning drive.
The Legend of Bo Nix has begun at Auburn.— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) September 1, 2019
Auburn takes the opener and now sits at 1-0 on the year with the home opener against Tulane coming next Saturday night at 6:30 pm CST.
Total Yards: 383
Passing Yards: 177
Rushing Yards: 206
Third Downs: 7-17
- Bo Nix: 13-31, 177 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 7 carries, 42 yards
- Boobee Whitlow: 24 carries, 110 yards
- Seth Williams: 4 catches, 41 yards, 1 touchdown
- Will Hastings: 1 catch, 38 yards
- Sal Cannella, 2 catches, 42 yards
- Jeremiah Dinson: 13 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack
- K.J Britt: 7 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 0.5 sacks
Total Yards: 322
Passing Yards: 242
Rushing Yards: 90
Third Downs: 4-14
- Justin Herbert: 28-37, 242 yards, 1 TD
- CJ Verdell: 14 carries, 76 yards, 1 TD
- Jaylon Redd: 9 catches, 64 yards