Bo Nix was a magician on Saturday night.
After disappearing to the sideline a week ago to the likes of TJ Finley, the junior quarterback reappeared in Baton Rouge with a few tricks up his sleeves, leading Auburn to its first victory in Death Valley since 1999.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Nix said on the win.”We talked about 1999 all week. That curse is finally broken.”
Nix used his legs to do so, whether it was running the football or keeping plays alive to find a receiver down field.
“It was part of the game plan tonight,” said Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin about Nix’s rushing attack. “Bo is a weapon with his legs. He’s able to make guys miss. He can run. I think that’s good for him, that’s part of his game that makes him the type of player he is. For him to stand back there and to be a really good thrower, he showed that.”
LSU struck first, after taking over at its 8-yard line in the first quarter. The Tigers drove 92 yards, mostly through a Max Johnson to Kayshon Boutte connection in the air.
Boutte rattled the Auburn defense in the first quarter. The sophomore had 114 yards receiving on four receptions in the first quarter, including a 31-yard touchdown reception.
The touchdown was an unusual one. On first-and-goal, a botched snap by LSU sent the ball back to the Auburn 31-yard line. It made it second-and-goal, from the 31-yard line.
Boutte scored on the next play, putting LSU up 7-0 early.
After the first quarter, the Auburn secondary slowed Boutte down, who recorded only two catches for 13 yards for the remainder of the game.
LSU moved the ball efficiently for most of the game, but Auburn’s defense kept the Tigers from reaching the end zone on all but the first drive. Instead, Cade York tied a career-high four field goals in a game for LSU.
Trailing 13-0 in the second quarter, Auburn closed out the half with 10 straight points within the final five minutes of the half.
The first Auburn touchdown fit the picture for how Nix performed tonight. It was fourth-and-2 at the LSU 24-yard line and Nix took the snap.
He was pressured by LSU, escaping the pocket to the right side before fleeing back to the left. Scrambling back toward the Auburn sideline, Nix was hit and Tiger Stadium cheered. But Nix somehow broke the tackle and hurled the ball downfield, hitting a wide open Tyler Fromm in the end zone.
“We’ve been repping that play for a while,” Nix said. “I just remember running back to the left just trying to maybe do something. I made that last guy miss and I knew obviously everybody was about to be there and pretty much tackle me. I saw Tyler Fromm running in the back. I mean, crazy. I’ll never forget the vision I had. I just saw that hair coming out of the back of his helmet, just flopping wide open”
It was Fromm’s first career touchdown reception.
“I didn’t think I was ever going to get my first touchdown here,” Fromm said. “Death Valley. Night game. It just means a lot to me. I don’t even remember me catching it, I don’t remember me celebrating it. It was just a high that I can’t explain.”
Auburn trailed 13-10 at halftime after Anders Carlson tacked on a 49-yard field goal.
LSU drove the length of the field on its opening drive of the second quarter, but similar to the rest of the game, it stalled before the end zone. York added another field goal to push the lead to six.
The result was repeated on LSU’s next possession, where York once again kicked a field goal, his fourth and final one of the night. The lead was 19-10 with 3:26 left in the third quarter, in favor of the Bayou Bengals.
Auburn entered the fourth quarter trailing by nine, but was driving into LSU territory.
With 14:16 remaining, Nix punched it into the end zone on a read option for his first rushing touchdown of the season. Nix finished the night with 74 rushing yards, second-most in a game for the junior in his career.
Although, Nix certainly ran for more while scrambling in the backfield, dodging defenders and running from side-to-side of the field. By the end of the night, Nix was exhausted.
“I’m exhausted, I haven’t run around quite like this in a while,” Nix said. “So I’m gonna sleep good tonight, whenever we get home. Everybody on my team is going to be tired, because everybody laid it all out there, laid it on the line, laid it on the field.”
The only member of Auburn’s team with more yards rushing than Nix was freshman running back Jarquez Hunter.
Hunter ran for 80 yards on six carries, including a pivotal 44-yard run on Auburn’s final offensive drive.
“Coach Cadillac [Williams] always tells us ‘It’s always gonna come down to the running back room,” Hunter said. “We got to make plays to win the game.”
With 5:30 remaining in the game, on a second-and-10 from the Auburn 34-yard line, Hunter found running room on the left side. He charged down the sideline with an open field before being pushed out of bounds at the LSU 22-yard line.
It was only fitting that the running back punched it in from 1-yard out five plays later to give Auburn its first lead of the game with 3:11 to go.
“He’s got the same look in his eyes on a third down against LSU in Baton Rouge as he does on a Tuesday practice,” Nix said about Hunter.
Auburn’s defense stopped LSU’s final attempt and the celebration began. Players ran to the band, high-fiving the Auburn fans that had made the trip. The 22-year winning drought in Baton Rouge is over.