Bo Nix must not have liked being benched.
Since being pulled mid-way through the Tigers game against Georgia State, Nix has been a man on a mission, leading Auburn to wins in two of the team’s last three games.
Auburn defeated No. 17 Arkansas 38-23 on Saturday, behind another dazzling performance by Nix.
"Bo is a competitor," said defensive end Derick Hall. "He really loves football and hates losing. He knows what it means to play quarterback at Auburn. That has showed up the last three weeks."
Auburn has now won consecutive road games for the first time since 2017 and has won its last six against the Razorbacks.
“I am excited,” said head coach Bryan Harsin. “I enjoyed that game. There were things that we have all been working on that fell into place today.”
To start the game off, Auburn elected to receive the opening kick and capitalized. Nix led the Tigers on a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive topped off by a 30-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Varrius Johnson.
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Auburn’s opening drive score was the first time Auburn has done so in an Southeastern Conference game since 2019, against none other than Arkansas.
In the third quarter, Nix had another huge touchdown strike.
Following a defensive stop on a Razorback fourth-and-short, Nix took a shotgun snap and sailed a pass to Demetris Robertson, who beat both his defenders and trotted in for a 71-yard score.
"He threw it up and Demetris came down with it,” Harsin said. “Those are the ones you want to hit. That helped us with momentum."
Drops that had so far plagued the Auburn offense, were practically nonexistent Saturday. In the game, Auburn had two drops, with one of the drops coming off a low diving try by Luke Deal.
Robertson said he and his fellow receivers practiced “repetition” and “fundamentals” the last two weeks in practice to fix the ball-dropping bug.
When all was said and done, Nix had finished the game 21-for-26 for 292 yards and three total scores. The only blemish on Nix’s stat sheet was a poorly-thrown jump ball that was intercepted. That pick is Nix’s second of the season.
Nix iced the game with two big plays on his legs.
On third-down in the Arkansas red zone with a little over three minutes to play, Nix took a speed option play up the left side of the field for a first down. A few plays later, Nix would make three separate defenders miss as he rushed in for a score, with 2:30 left in the game.
“I come in focused every day, just ready to compete,” Nix said. “When I go out there and compete and desire the ball at the end of the game, that is when I'm at my best."
With his three total scores, Nix passed Cam Newton for total career touchdowns at Auburn.
Aiding to Nix’s stellar afternoon was German-born junior left tackle Kilian Zierer.
Zierer had never started a game before, but was quietly inserted into the first team rotation before the game, in replacement of Austin Troxell. Aside from two false state penalties on Zierer, the offensive line was perfect and did not allow a sack.
On the opposite side of the ball, Auburn’s defense had plenty of sacks.
Out of the three sacks caused by Auburn’s defense, no sack mattered more than Hall’s in the third quarter.
Arkansas started its drive from its own 11, after an Oscar Chapman punt pinned the home team back.
On second down, Razorback quarterback KJ Jefferson was sacked by Colby Wooden for a loss of six.
The following third-and-15 play, Jefferson took a shotgun snap and was surveying the field as his pocket collapsed. Hall came off the right edge and walloped Jefferson from behind in the endzone, and the ball came loose.
Zakoby McClain and Marcus Harris raced for the ball, but Harris jumped on the loose ball for an Auburn score. McClain thought he should have been the one that scored.
“I really had a touchdown but I gave it to my brother," McClain said.
Auburn’s defensive touchdown gave the Tigers a 21-17 lead, a lead that the team would not relinquish again.
"When you score on defense, you have a really good shot of winning a game," Harsin said.
Auburn (5-2, 2-1) will take the win into the team’s bye week, before a home game on Halloween-eve against No. 13 Ole Miss.
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