The facts are firm, simple, and resolute. Auburn beat Oregon 27-21 last night behind the best comeback of the Gus Malzahn era. Texas A&M last year was pretty good, and the same guy scored the game-winning touchdowns in both instances, but this was special. With everything that had been going wrong for Auburn, and the circumstance in which true freshman Bo Nix willed the team to victory in the second half, this’ll be a game that we remember for a long, long time.
Here are some nuggets from around the internet in response to what happened last night:
Welp, I’ve had my first heart attack as an Auburn fan ♂️— ⭐️Deshaun Davis⭐ (@_Davis_Boy12) September 1, 2019
I don’t feel bad for Deshaun, because he had a big hand in doing this to all of us regular Auburn fans for four years, and now he knows how it feels. How the turn tables, Deshaun.
Auburn HC Gus Malzahn on QB Bo Nix: "He's got some gunslinger in him, there's no doubt."— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) September 1, 2019
We got to see the good and the bad from having a confident freshman in the game last night. Bo Nix made some great throws, including the ones on the last drive to give us the win, but he made some really poor ones as well. I hope that we can chalk most of that up to nerves, as he was playing in only, ya know, the biggest game of the weekend. Still, some of the misfires on open receivers and both interceptions were just overall poor throws or decisions.
He also had some trouble recognizing when to take off and run. Credit to him, he didn’t really get skittish, per se, but he kept his eyes downfield to a fault at times when he could’ve used legit 4.6 speed to gain a few yards. Oregon brought pressure constantly, and he had opportunities to bust through the initial blitz to find some open grass in the middle of the defense. Had he done that, the Ducks would’ve been forced to adjust on defense earlier.
Auburn WR Seth Williams on the Oregon corner covering him on the last-second touchdown pass.— Sumner Martin (@SMartin_AU) September 1, 2019
“He wasn’t ready for it. He thought he was in my head. He wasn’t. He was soft.”
This is just a brutal comment that the poor Oregon corner has no way to rebut. Williams made such a good play on the winning touchdown, and it had to feel good because the Ducks had done a really solid job on preventing him from getting the ball. He was bracketed a lot during the night, and Nix tried to force a ball to him a couple times. When Williams finally got open, he made the plays.
Auburn RB Boobee Whitlow on WR Seth Williams: “Woo, that boy is different... He does stuff that you can’t teach.”— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) September 1, 2019
Later: “You can’t go wrong with Seth, man.”
I agree. I think Nix-to-Williams will likely become a common theme over the next two years.
On the subject of Gus Malzahn making comebacks, there really haven’t been many. Auburn erased a big deficit to Texas A&M last season, and there have been games where they’d been down by multiple scores and won, but last night was the first time since the Kick Six that the Tigers scored a game-winning touchdown in the final minute of play.
Auburn QB Bo Nix: "That wouldn't have happened if the defense wouldn't have played out of their minds."— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) September 1, 2019
And a huge reason why the offense was allowed to even do that was because the defense went 11-12 on stopping Oregon drives after the first quarter. They got the one third quarter touchdown, but Auburn allowed 176 yards in the first period, and just 156 in the three quarters after that. While it looked like we were getting gashed on the ground, Oregon didn’t hit 100 yards rushing.
Bo Nix's dad celebrating that game-clinching TD his son just threw is everything. So good. pic.twitter.com/a0LKLYDRp9— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) September 1, 2019
Personally, this choked me up a little. If you’ve ever talked to Patrick Nix, you know that there aren’t many people who love Auburn more than he does. As a lifelong Auburn fan, if my son grew up to play quarterback, engineered a game-winning drive in the final seconds in the biggest game of the day, I’d be beyond consolable with joy.
Auburn QB Bo Nix on what he saw on the 4th-and-3 scramble: "I saw a bunch of white jerseys."— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) September 1, 2019
And it’s a credit to Pat Nix that Bo had the willpower to take his team to the win. He didn’t flinch when confronted by the moment, and when it mattered he made a play that a normal freshman wouldn’t make. On the fourth down late, Gus called a rollout for Nix with a little play-action fake, but nobody was open. Bo put his head down and flew through multiple defenders to get the first down by the nose of the football. Not a freshman type of play.
“That was my first ‘Bo to Seth’ moment.”— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) September 1, 2019
@bo_nix10 on his game-winner to @8_sethwilliams in @AuburnFootball 27-21 win vs. Oregon, and the similarity to his dad’s shining moment: “Nix to Sanders.” pic.twitter.com/VjJWTM0Jeq
Then just seconds later, Bo mirrored his dad’s biggest play by completing an eerily-similar pass to a guy with the numbers 1 and 8 on his jersey. Picture comparison below.
First pic: Pat Nix to Frank Sanders, 1993.— Kenny Smith (@kennysmith) September 1, 2019
Second pic: Bo Nix to Seth Williams, 2019.
Sports are crazy. pic.twitter.com/CrHvUS42af
It’s funny, and I mentioned it in the Snap Judgments article earlier today, but the final catch mirrored the touchdown in the 1993 Iron Bowl. The drive leading up to it mirrored Pat Nix’s efforts in the 1994 Florida game, which culminated in Nix to Sanders Pt. II. Having to convert the fourth down conversion and the sideline route to get us in position to score were remarkably close to what happened in Gainesville that day.
Auburn FS Jeremiah Dinson on DC Kevin Steele being on the sidelines tonight: “He was actually calm. That was weird.”— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) September 1, 2019
Like we mentioned above, the defense got punched in the mouth to start before settling in. Having Kevin Steele on the sideline instead of in the press box meant that adjustments could happen much sooner, and they did after the first quarter instead of at halftime. Again, Auburn’s defense was 11-12 in stopping the Ducks after going down 14-3 in the first quarter.
K.J. Britt is going to get some real NFL consideration if he continues to play like he did, and I’m really pumped about three years (or four, hopefully) of Owen Pappoe. Jeremiah Dinson had maybe the best game of his career last night, and Zakoby McClain, Big Kat Bryant, and Christian Tutt all had fantastic nights as well. I’m also really excited to see what happens with Tutt this year on punt return. I have a feeling he’ll house multiple kicks this season.
I know that Seth Williams had to be frustrated with the lack of production early on, but Oregon locked him down. Once he had a one-on-one opportunity, and when Nix made a throw to get it in his catch radius, he did the rest.
Sometimes I wonder what’s it like to be a football player and not see the clock ticking down like the fans do on TV. You’re in the heat of the moment, able to let out your nerves by running and getting hit. When you finally let the emotion in and realize the gravity of what just happened, then it has to be an unreal feeling.
Auburn running back JaTarvious Whitlow: "Nobody wanted to lose to Oregon. We feel like that's a bad reputation on them. What are they, ACC? Pac-12? I didn't even know what they were. A Pac-12 team coming in and beating an SEC team, we can't take that." https://t.co/VlVzbhgQAF— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) September 1, 2019
I think we’ve learned by now that Boobee Whitlow is a quote machine. He’s also a guy that I would probably really dislike if he played for Alabama, Georgia, or LSU. He showed flashes of different running backs last night, like Kerryon’s patience, Tre Mason’s ability to push for the necessary yardage, and even some of the moves that Cadillac made famous. His rushing in the second half paced the offense and let Bo get on track in the passing game.
Cam Newton’s Instagram story reacting to the Auburn - Oregon game is the best thing I’ve seen all day. pic.twitter.com/adOqTjYjFe— Blattman (@davidblattman) September 1, 2019
CaM nEwToN hAtEs AuBuRn He OnLy UsEd ThE sChOol To ReAcH tHe NfL
Auburn RB Boobee Whitlow on QB Bo Nix during the last drive: pic.twitter.com/RfY432JWr4— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) September 1, 2019
Again, Boobee quotes machine engage, but it shows how much Bo Nix didn’t let the moment get to him. He missed throws and put the ball in the wrong place against a good defense, but he didn’t get rattled. Huge for the true freshman, and now he’ll get a couple chances to grow in front of a friendly crowd at home.
They’re both half right here. We were getting whipped before halftime, but things really picked up after halftime. It’s the first time we hit 200 rushing yards against a ranked opponent since the 2017 Georgia game.
Am I crazy or is Gus getting better at dancing? pic.twitter.com/8eukKNv7qx— E2C Network: Auburn Athletics Podcasts (@E2C_Network) September 1, 2019
This is what you get when Gus gets his swag back a little bit. He didn’t look like he was having a great time calling plays in the first half, but we saw things work out in the end. Maybe he knows that he’s got a quarterback that can help mitigate some things with the way he controls the game. Maybe.
And finally here, Bo requests a polite public apology on Twitter. Charles Barkley would’ve stormed an ESPN set and destroyed things until Corso apologized for what he had done. I’m fine with both approaches.