On Saturday night, Bo Nix and the Auburn Tigers will meet the Penn State Nittany Lions in State College’s Beaver Stadium. The home crowd will be participating in their team’s annual white-out game, one of the most famous environments in college football.
Historically, Bo Nix has struggled mightily on the road and excelled inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Twelve of his thirteen career interceptions occurred on the road or at neutral site games, though six of those twelve came in just two of those games—losses to Florida and South Carolina.
Let’s look at Nix’s statistics from road games and examine what he can do better. For this analysis, only regular season games were used.
2019 vs. Oregon (neutral site) – 13/31 passing, 177 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions
Nix’s debut as a true freshman was a rocky one. Although his 13th and final completion of the night went for a game-winning touchdown to Seth Williams that will go down in Auburn history, he also tossed two interceptions and struggled in his first college game.
2019 at Texas A&M – 12/20 passing, 100 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions
Auburn leaned on its run game in this one, building up a 28-10 lead that the Aggies couldn’t overcome. It was the fourth triumph of Auburn’s season-opening five-game win streak, and Nix’s numbers weren’t stellar. That being said, they didn’t need to be.
2019 at Florida – 11/27 passing, 145 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions
A top-ten matchup in the Swamp was to be Nix’s first true test against a high-quality opponent in a hostile environment. This was the game where he looked like a true freshman, making costly mistakes in a 24-13 loss that struck the Tigers from the ranks of the undefeated. His 40.7% completion mark remains the worst in his career.
2019 at Arkansas – 12/17 passing, 176 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions
Nix rebounded well from a dismal performance in the Swamp, leading a rout of the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville. While this was a strong performance, the quality of opponent must be examined. The Razorbacks finished the 2019 season with a 2-10 record and failed to win a single game in the SEC.
2019 at LSU – 15/35 passing, 157 yards, one touchdown, one interception
One week after a stellar showing at Arkansas, Nix returned to struggling. He finished with his third-worst completion percentage mark, although the interception was on a 50/50 deep ball in an effort to score at the end of the first half. Still, had Nix been able to complete more of his passes, Auburn just might’ve been able to bring down the eventual national champions in their home stadium, as the Tigers fell by just three points.
2020 at Georgia – 21/40 passing, zero touchdowns, one interception
Another top-ten matchup on the road, another disappointment. Nix completed just over half of his passes and couldn’t get anything going for the offense, highlighting the struggles the team would face in Gus Malzahn’s final season.
2020 at South Carolina – 24/47 passing, 272 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions
In terms of yards, this was Nix’s best game on the road. Unfortunately, he also tied his three-interception mark from the 2019 season at Florida, nullifying the offense’s momentum. Two of those interceptions were hauled in by Jaycee Horn, who was drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
2020 at Ole Miss – 23/30 passing, 238 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions
This was probably Nix’s best showing on the road in his career. He only netted one touchdown, but Tank Bigsby’s coming-out performance paved the way for this win. Still, Nix answered the call when the Tigers needed him, completing a sideline pass to Seth Williams that was taken to the end zone for the go-ahead score in a 35-28 win. If Nix can get in touch with this side of himself against Penn State and not make mistakes, he’ll be a net positive, which is ultimately what every team needs from its quarterback.
2020 at Alabama – 23/38 passing, 227 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions
There isn’t a lot to say about this one. Nix tossed two interceptions and had a surefire touchdown dropped in the first half, largely deflating the Tigers as they faced off against a superior opponent.
2020 at Mississippi State – 15/32 passing, 125 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions
This was arguably Nix’s worst game of the 2020 season. He completed less than half of his passes for the only time that season and had a low yardage output as well. It was a merciful end to a rocky season, and the last true road game that Nix has played in the regular season.
On Saturday, Nix will get his shot to show how much he’s improved after finally having an entire offseason to train and learn. The crowd will be as hostile as anything he’s ever faced, with 106,572 bodies in the stands making as much noise as they can. In two games against inferior competition, Nix has looked highly competent, and his overall numbers have been hampered by a handful of drops last weekend. No matter what, the expectations will be high.
Auburn kicks off against Penn State at 6:30 central time on ABC.