By SPENCER McLAUGHLIN
Contributor, 750 The Game
Bo Nix is really good. I’m not breaking any news here that everybody doesn’t already know. Well, except maybe a select few Auburn fans who weren’t upset when “Bo Picks” decided to transfer to Eugene. If they haven’t tuned in since then, the former 5-star quarterback has completely bloomed behind center for the Ducks. He turned in another stellar outing against Cal in a 63-19 win to help Oregon improve to 8-1 in 2023.
Nix was 29/38 passing for 386 yards and 4 touchdowns, running for 2 more on the ground. His Heisman campaign got a kick into gear this offseason with the ‘Bodacious’ signs making appearances in New York City and Dallas leading up to the season.
He’s living up to the hype.
He threw his second interception of the season on the Ducks’ opening drive, a ball that glanced off WR Tez Johnson’s hands in a rain-filled Autzen Stadium (where, of course, it never rains). How did Nix and company respond? By building a lead so large that backup QB Ty Thompson got to lead a couple of scoring drives. Anyone else notice how much better he looks this season in his mop up duty appearances? I certainly have. It’s hard to not think Bo Nix is at least partially behind the former 5-star QB’s growth.
After Johnson’s disastrous start to the game in a tough situation with a wet football, Bo Nix responded emphatically. He didn’t just double down on his belief in Johnson, he quintupled down. Johnson ended the game with a season-high 12 receptions for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bo Nix is the most experienced quarterback in the history of college football, and he plays like it every single week. He’s the same steady presence on the sideline. He’s the same consistent quarterback who can take shots down the field and execute any play that comes from OC Will Stein. He spreads the ball around, runs when he has to, and makes great decisions. And I can’t shake the leadership element that he’s clearly brought to this Oregon team.
Nix’s efficiency is insanely good. He set the Ducks’ single-season completion record last year at just a shade under 72%. And in 2023, he’s better–with a higher passer rating to go along with his nation-leading completion percentage that was 78% going into Saturday. He’s thrown just 2 interceptions this season, one of which was fueled by Saturday’s rain, and the other was a miscommunication with his wide receiver against Colorado.
Neither one proved to be costly for the Ducks. Bo Nix’s decision making and execution combined with his leadership are what make him such a dangerous offensive player this year. He’s got a huge array of weapons, a ground game that he can lean on at times, and another great offensive line. The offense is completely balanced and is capable of being run-heavy or pass-heavy depending on the game flow. Whichever one is required, or if true balance is needed, offensive coordinator Will Stein has no limitations with Bo Nix behind center.
Oregon has 3 games left in the regular season, and if they win those they’ll secure a trip to Las Vegas against, most likely, Washington. It’s hard to not feel good to great about Dan Lanning’s team, they’re playing complete and explosive football on offense and defense.
With Bo Nix at the helm and a strong team around him, the ceiling on this Oregon team is really, really high in 2023. They were in this spot last year and stumbled, losing 2 of their final 3 games.
It’s hard to feel anything but confident they won’t make such mistakes this time around with their Heisman-caliber quarterback.
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.