Bo Nix Hoping To Check One More Box In Storybook Season
By Joey Johnston
If Auburn University quarterback BoNix leads the Tigers (9-3) past the Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-2) in the Jan.1 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium, it would seem like a storybook finish.
But the Bo Nix tale is nothing like anormal storybook, not even in the most improbable sports saga. The pages flowso naturally, almost making you believe that anything is possible.
Becoming the first true freshmanquarterback to start a season-opener at Auburn since 1946? Check.
Leading a come-from-behind,last-second victory against eventual Pac-12 Conference champion Oregon in thatprime-time television opener? Check.
Helping the Tigers to a riveting IronBowl victory against arch-rival Alabama, while thousands of Auburn faithfulrush the field in glee? Check.
Getting to a New Year's Day bowlgame? Check.
What can Bo Nix possibly do for anencore? Well, plenty.
He has been surrounded byexpectations since a young age, all because of his last name.
As in Patrick Nix, Auburn quarterbacklegend, his father.
It was Patrick Nix who came off thebench in 1993 and led Auburn to a come-from-behind victory against Alabama,preserving an unbeaten season.
It was Patrick Nix who tossed a latetouchdown pass to Frank Sanders - the play wound up on Sports Illustrated'scover - to push Auburn past the No. 1-ranked Florida Gators in a 1994 classicat the Swamp.
It was Patrick Nix who guided hisTigers against Penn State in the 1995 Outback Bowl.
Quite a legacy.
Quite an act to follow.
But Nix has lived up to the familyname - and then some. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Nix was probably aneighth-grader when the recruitment began. He arrived as one of the tophigh-school quarterbacks ever in the state of Alabama - the No. 2-ranked pocketpasser nationally, more than 12,000 career total yards, 161 total touchdownsand two state championships.
When Nix hit Seth Williams on a26-yard touchdown pass to defeat Oregon with 15 seconds remaining - going forbroke instead of settling for a manageable field-goal attempt that would've wonthe game - longtime Nix observers were jubilant.
But they weren't surprised.
"You'd think usually a true freshmanwould panic,'' Auburn receiver Anthony Schwartz told ESPN. "But he doesn'tpanic.''
"Bo's a winner,'' Auburn running backKam Martin said. "Since the beginning of camp, he had it in him.''
Actually, he had it in him way beforethat.
Patrick Nix was head coach atHenderson State in Arkansas when he first encountered Malzahn, then ahigh-school coach in the state, about the time Bo was born (yes, the son wasnamed after Bo Jackson, the former Heisman Trophy-winning back from Auburn).
Of course, Nix had the properbloodlines and picked up valuable tips from his father, who worked on thestaffs of Georgia Tech and Miami before settling back in Alabama.
As a freshman, Nix has passed for2,366 yards, 15 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
"The whole thing has been reallyneat,'' Malzahn said. "Bo's father is certainly an Auburn legend, but Bo hasmade his own way and he has really played well against some of the toughestdefenses in college football.
"He has had to grow up with the worldwatching. I really feel good about the way he has handled the ups and downs ofeverything. We're in really, really good hands in the future with Bo Nix atquarterback.''
As for the present?
"Bo gives us a chance to win againstanybody,'' Malzahn said. "It says freshman (on his biography) but he's morethan a freshman. He's just a winner.''