Sep. 23—When Bo Nix took the field for his first collegiate start as a freshman and led the Auburn Tigers to a last-second, comeback victory against Oregon in 2019, the young quarterback had no idea some of those devastated Ducks on the opposing sideline would be his future teammates.
After an up-and-down career in his home state of Alabama, Nix said 'See ya later' to the SEC and flew off to the Pacific Northwest to try to bolster a Pac-12 team in need of a quarterback.
Nix and the No. 15 Ducks (2-1) will face Washington State (3-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday (Fox) at Gesa Field.
"I'm looking forward to it," Nix said of his first game in Pullman. "I think it'll present a really good challenge for our team, and it's all up to us to respond to it."
Nix had a rude welcome to his old stomping grounds in SEC country when now-No. 1 Georgia pummeled Oregon 49-3 in the quarterback's first game in green and yellow. But Nix and the Ducks have settled in the past two weeks and are coming off a 41-20 upset of No. 12 BYU.
In three games, Nix has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 672 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions and added three more scores on the ground.
"I think the Nix kid gives them a really athletic kid who's played a lot of football and can stand in there and deliver the ball," WSU coach Jake Dickert said. "(Nix is) a quarterback who's confident in the scheme and knows where he wants to go and they're giving him some reads and he's getting the ball out and letting their playmakers make plays in space."
In a sense, the start of Nix's Oregon career was like that first college game as a true freshman.
That Auburn-Oregon game in Arlington, Texas, was mostly forgettable for Nix. He completed just 13 passes at a 42-percent clip and had two costly interceptions.
But Nix overcame the sluggish start to lead the Tigers on a last-minute drive that resulted in a 26-yard touchdown to Seth Williams with nine seconds left.
Auburn won 27-21 and Nix went on to win SEC freshman of the year that season.
So when some people thought the sky was falling after Oregon's 46-point loss to Georgia, Nix stayed cool.
"It was different the first few weeks for sure," Nix said of his new home. "Saturday (against BYU), I felt more comfortable because I'd been through the home game experience the weekend before.
"Starting to get more comfortable with everything and I think things are starting to go smoothly for everybody."
In the past two games, Oregon has scored 111 points and amassed 1,043 yards against Eastern Washington and BYU. The team's rushing attack, which is averaging 205 yards per game, sets up Nix and the passing game.
The Ducks can play slow with lots of shifts and movements or speed it up and run up-tempo like WSU likes to do.
The key clash against the Cougars will be Nix and the high-flying Oregon offense vs. what has been a steadfast Cougar defense through three games.
WSU announced a sellout crowd for the game. Gesa Field's capacity is just under 33,000.
"We're going to have to bring the juice for sure," Nix said. "We're going to have to get up there and start fast. It's a tough environment, tough road game and those games are always hard to get going."
Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @StephanSports.