ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Auburn true freshman quarterback Bo Nix threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Seth Williams with nine seconds remaining and the 16th-ranked Tigers opened the season with a 27-21 comeback win over No. 11 Oregon on Saturday night.
Nix barely converted a fourth-and-3 at midfield in the final minute when he tucked and ran, with only the nose of the ball past the chain when officials measured. Then on third-and-10 from the Oregon 39 with no timeouts, Nix hit Williams for 13 yards, and found him again on the next play to put Auburn ahead for the first time.
“He has some savviness to him, there’s no doubt,” coach Gus Malzahn said of the young quarterback. “His first start against one of the better teams in the country, he did some really good things. . . . When the game was on the line, he found a way to win.”
The Tigers, who trailed 21-6 late in the third quarter, delivered another early blow to the Pac-12. They beat the Pac-12’s highest-ranked team in a season opener for the second year in a row — No. 6 Washington lost to them 21-16 in Atlanta last year.
“Tough, really tough one,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said.
Nix finished 13-of-31 passing for 177 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and also ran seven times for 42 yards. JaTarvious Whitlow ran 24 times for 110 yards for the Tigers.
Justin Herbert, who bypassed early entry into the NFL draft to return to Oregon, was 28-of-37 passing for 242 yards with a TD.
Herbert wasn’t on the field for a fourth-and-1 play with 5½ minutes left, after banging his knee with a defender following a pass. After Herbert was tended to and came off the field, the Ducks called two timeouts — though those stoppages didn’t allow Herbert to return at that point.
“The wrong personnel was in, and we got personnel straightened out, they weren’t quite sure as to who was going to do what,” Cristobal said. “As a coaching staff, that’s on us. . . . Trying to make pieces work for a certain play.”
No. 2 Alabama 42, Duke 3
In Atlanta, Tua Tagovailoa threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns as the No. 2 Crimson Tide overcame a sluggish start to blow out the Blue Devils.
Returning to the stadium where it won the Southeastern Conference title last December and the national championship two seasons ago, Alabama(1-0) was held scoreless in the first quarter — which happened only one time in 2018.
But Duke (0-1) merely delayed the inevitable.
Tagovailoa put his tight ends to good use. The left-hander hooked up with Miller Forristall on a 27-yard touchdown pass and then went to Major Tennison for a 1-yard score
Alabama’s dynamic receiving corps also got in on the fun. DeVonta Smith hauled in an 8-yard TD pass and Jerry Jeudy broke loose for a 21-yard score.
No. 3 Georgia 30, Vanderbilt 6
In Nashville, Tennessee, Jake Fromm threw for 156 yards and a touchdown, and the Bulldogs won their 20th opener in 23 seasons and stayed perfect to kick off coach Kirby Smart’s fourth season.
Georgia also easily won its 14th straight against the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division in its first league game to open a season since 1995.
In Other Games
No. 5 Ohio State 45, FAU 21
No. 6 LSU 55, Georgia Southern 3
No. 7 Michigan 40, MTSU 21
No. 10 Texas 45, Louisiana Tech 14
No. 13 Washington 47, E. Washington 14
No. 15 Penn State 79, Idaho 7
No. 20 Iowa 38, Miami (Ohio) 14
No. 21 Iowa State 29, N. Iowa 26 (3OT)
No. 22 Syracuse 24, Liberty 0
No. 24 Nebraska 35, South Alabama 21
No. 25 Stanford 17, Northwestern 7