By SPENCER McLAUGHLIN
Contributor, 750 The Game
The word bodacious is defined as “excellent, admirable, or attractive” in the dictionary. I think that definition should be expanded to include “incredible moxy whilst playing quarterback” thanks to Bo Nix. He dazzled, once again, in a gem of a performance against Oregon State. Nix ended the game with 367 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, rushing for another, and no interceptions.
His third down passing was exceptional, converting in key spots including moments in which pressure was coming untouched in his face. There were NFL scouts in attendance, and I have to imagine more than a couple throws stand out from the 5th-year senior’s masterful performance. The crossbody throw to Troy Franklin was impressive, supplemented by a pair of 3rd and long off-balance completions to the same guy. There was also a beautifully layered throw over underneath coverage to Tez Johnson that FOX analyst Brock Huard was adamant in saying, correctly, was an NFL throw.
So now Oregon is 11-1 and bound for Las Vegas where they’ll battle a 12-0 Washington team off a thrilling Apple Cup victory, 24-21. I love the way Oregon is playing, especially on defense. In the second half of the season, Oregon’s second half defensive points allowed have gone like this: 11, 0, 6, 13, 13, and 0.
Oh, and their first half defense is great as well. Oregon is allowing fewer than 16 points per game this season. Dan Lanning and his staff have built a really good unit that has battled injuries on the back end with guys like Jahlil Florence. But let’s come back to that later in the week — right now, I keep thinking about Bo Nix.
I’ve written on several occasions about Oregon’s balance on offense and why it makes them such a dangerous unit and difficult to defend. Over the last month and a half, it’s been Bo Nix being bodacious that has kept the offense producing at a productive level.
He’s gone over 400 yards in two of the last four games, and since the loss to the Huskies he’s thrown 20 touchdowns and just 1 interception. He was 33-of-40 on Friday against a good Oregon State team, and is completing 78.5% of his passes this year. In the first six games, Oregon ran for over 200 yards five times. Since then? Just once, going for 248 against Washington State. It’s been the Bo Nix show week in and week out, he’s been far more consistent than the Ducks’ ground game.
He and Jayden Daniels are the top-two betting favorites to win the Heisman trophy. The online debate between the two conference-shifting QBs centers around Oregon’s team success and Bo Nix’s apparent inability to throw anything but screen passes.
I wonder if Oregon State feels that most of his damage came on throws behind the line of scrimmage?
It’s strange that Oregon’s offensive coordinator Will Stein, who’s a nominee for the Broyles Award given to the nation’s top coordinator, could actually be a liability for his Heisman candidacy. But that’s where we are at.
The other aspect of Bo Nix I continue to admire is how steady and consistent he is. Every quarter, every pass attempt, every sequence, he’s the same guy.
The Ducks are up to an 9.5-point favorite against Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game following a dominant win over No. 16 Oregon State and the Huskies’ narrow escape against WSU, who is not making a bowl game. The Huskies have been insanely good in close games this year; they remind me of the 2018 Mariners. That team just kept on winning because they had a great closer and a great bullpen. When a football game is in the 8th inning, it’s hard to feel anything but confident in the tandem of Michael Penix Jr. and Rome Odunze to shut the door.
But on the Oregon side of things? It’s harder to not feel confident about how the entire team is playing, headlined by their Heisman-caliber quarterback. He’s been magnificent, and the team around him isn’t half bad either.
Spencer McLaughlin is an Oregon Ducks football contributor to 750 The Game. He also hosts the “Locked On Oregon Ducks” and “Locked On Pac-12” podcasts and has work featured throughout the season here.