Gold: Bo knows Heisman? 5 reasons Oregon QB Nix is in the mix
After one of the best passing performances in recent Pac-12 history, Oregon quarterback Bo Nix entered the Heisman Trophy race this week, moving up to +4000 in FanDuel’s Heisman betting odds, tied for 6th with Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders and behind Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud (+100), Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (+200), USC quarterback Caleb Williams (+1200), Michigan running back Blake Corum and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.
Nix is not exactly a shoo-in, but hey, he’s on the list.
Nix is vying to become the second Duck to win the award, following in the footsteps of Marcus Mariota, who won the award in 2014 following a junior season in which he completed 304 passes for 4,454 yards and 42 touchdowns with 4 interceptions.
Can he pull it off, despite starting the season with a 49-3 loss to Georgia? Well, he’s led come-from-behind wins before (see below).
Here are 5 reasons Nix is in the Heisman mix after a huge showing against UCLA.
No passing fad
After one of the best passing games by a Pac-12 quarterback in years, Nix announced his Heisman candidacy this week.
Coming off a 22-of-28, 283-yard, 5-touchdown, 0-interception, 51-rushing-yard performance in a resounding 45-30 win over No. 9 UCLA — one of the best performances of a top-10 quarterback over another top-10 team this year — Nix is getting more love than ever.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 22, 2022
And deservedly so.
In his past 6 games, Nix is 132-for-177 for 1,636 yards and 17 touchdowns with 1 interception. This, of course, follows a season-opening stinker against Georgia, when he went 21-of-37 for 173 yards and zero touchdowns with 2 picks in a 49-3 loss.
Luckily for him, Heisman voters have short memories, and that game will be long forgotten by the time Nix needs the votes.
Plus, he’s responded so well, it actually might play in his favor. Nix has multiple passing touchdowns in 5 of his past 6 games, including 5 in Week 2 against Eastern Washington and 3 in a 44-41 win over Washington State on Sept. 24. In that game, the Ducks trailed by 12 with 6:42 left but managed to pull it out as Nix had two clutch scores in a 2:27-minute stretch late in the 4th quarter.
No one is running away with it
Stroud has been phenomenal for Ohio State, but he has games at No. 13 Penn State and at home against No. 4 Michigan remaining.
Hooker has been out of this world, but the Vols still have a home game with Kentucky and road tests at Georgia and South Carolina left on the schedule.
USC’s Williams has been great, but Nix has been better as of late and is trending up.
Young has been nicked up and is playing against his own shadow from last year, when he won the Heisman after passing for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns with just 7 interceptions.
Corum is off to a smashing start for the Wolverines, but he’s one-dimensional and he’s a running back, and that’s not a good combo for Heisman voters.
Yes, Stroud and Hooker will be hard to overcome, but if they stumble, Nix will be right there to pick up the ball and run with it.
Well, maybe Nix runs away with it anyway
It is incumbent upon Heisman candidates to find ways to produce, and if it can’t be through the air, well then, how’s 5 rushing touchdowns combined in Weeks 5 and 6, following another 3-score performance in Week 3 against then-No. 12 BYU?
Behind arguably the best offensive line in college football, Nix has been a wizard when keeping the ball, rushing for 382 yards on 47 carries. His 6-carry, 141-yard performance in a Week 5 win over Stanford is one of the best rushing performances by a quarterback this season.
Even though his running numbers were just above average against UCLA in the big win, his impact in the ground game was noticeable. He had just 51 yards but all 8 carries mattered. His first was an 11-yard first down. His second went for 5 yards but set up the Ducks for a score 2 plays later at the 2-yard line. He had 2 4th-down conversions deep in Oregon territory, rushing for 2 yards on 2 sneaks and he added another 13-yard run on 3rd-and-12 with 3:30 left to seal the game.
One marquee matchup left
It’s a little bit of a catch-22.
Nix might want to tangle with another ranked squad if only to bolster his Heisman bona fides. But he’ll probably take Oregon’s negotiable path ahead instead of adding to the Ducks’ difficulty.
Oregon’s one ranked team remaining — defending Pac-12 champion Utah — is a pretty good one. Getting past the Utes will be tough in and of itself. Then the Ducks take on a (6-2 as of now) Oregon State squad in what is always a nasty Civil War.
It would help Nix’s case if Oregon advances to the conference title game against a 1-loss squad.
A Heisman pedigree, if in name only
This is a story about a boy named Bo, who burst onto the scene at Auburn, electrifying Tigers fans from the very start. He was agile and cunning that day, his very first game, leading Auburn to a big win over a talented nonconference rival. No, not Bo Jackson, who ran for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first career game in 1982 and eventually won the Heisman Trophy in 1985.
Nix capped his college debut against his current squad, Oregon, with a touchdown pass to Seth Williams with 9 seconds left to lift the Tigers to an upset win over the Ducks at Arlington Stadium.
It was quite the debut for Nix, and one that has served as the lynchpin for his story throughout his career. And it is a good story, which Heisman voters seem to love.
Nix is the son of former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix, who led the Tigers to an 11-0 record in 1993, though they were ineligible for a bowl game because of NCAA probation.
One more note: Contrary to popular belief, Nix is not named after the other Bo, but instead for his maternal grandfather.