Bo Nix hoping to improve on last season with Oregon

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EUGENE, Ore. – Bo Nix has settled in at Oregon, ready for a better outcome in his final year with the Ducks.

The senior quarterback was getting Heisman buzz for a time last season before he got injured and the Ducks derailed.

“This year we’ve got to start over, go back when we get in fall camp, get into the season, just continue to work to finish those games and make that next step,” he said.

And that next step? Winning championships, he said.

Nix is among a large group of experienced returning quarterbacks in the Pac-12, joining Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams of USC, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Washington State’s Cameron Ward and Arizona’s Jayden de Laura. Utah’s Cam Rising could also be on track to start for the Utes after an ACL injury.

The return of Nix, along with backup Ty Thompson, bodes well for the Duck.

Nix finished with 29 touchdown passes, 14 rushing scores and one TD catch in 13 games last season after transferring to Oregon from Auburn. He threw just seven interceptions and finished with an Oregon-record 71.9 completion percentage. His rushing touchdowns were just one shy of Marcus Mariota‘s single-season record.

There were questions about whether he’d be back for his final year of eligibility, but Oregon announced his return before defeating North Carolina 28-27 in the Holiday Bowl.

Oregon, which finished 10-3 last season, was considered a possible playoff contender but an eight-game winning streak was snapped in a 37-34 loss to Washington on Nov. 12. Nix injured his right ankle in that game and struggled with it the rest of the way.

The Ducks still had hopes of a Pac-12 title but they were thwarted by a loss to Oregon State. Oregon ended the season ranked No. 15.

“I just felt like last year we would have finished at times better, and that’s something that going into this year we need to do,” Nix said. “We were in a great spot last year and then didn’t finish. So this year our goal is to be the best we can be. And one of my personal goals is to win a championship.”

Nix, an Arkansas native and former five-star recruit, started the first 34 games of his career at Auburn.

He’s grown into a leadership role while at Oregon, coach Dan Lanning said following the Ducks’ spring game Saturday.

Oregon was the last Pac-12 team to stage a spring game this season. The Ducks then wrapped up spring practice on Monday.

“Just the ability to be vocal and know that he doesn’t have to wait for somebody to say, ‘Hey go ahead say it, right?’” Lanning said. “He’s willing to do that and he’s done a good job of that.”

Nix said he’s more comfortable.

“A lot more comfortable,” he said. “Just because another year, I know everybody much better and I know where everything is, I know what time and the schedule is set for. You get to meet a lot of new faces and meet a lot of new people. Everybody’s kind of looking at me now so it’s important that I take being comfortable and use it in a good way.”

Nix leads No. 15 Oregon to Holiday Bowl win vs. North Carolina

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SAN DIEGO – The Holiday Bowl emerged from a two-year pandemic hiatus with a new home and the same reputation for thrilling finishes.

Bo Nix threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Chase Cota on fourth down with 19 seconds left and Camden Lewis‘ PAT bounced off the left upright and went through to give No. 15 Oregon a wild 28-27 victory against North Carolina at Petco Park.

Cota caught the ball at about the 1 and got it across the goal line as he was being tackled by Don Chapman. The play was upheld on review. Lewis then banked in the PAT.

Nix called it “just one of our favorite plays” that the team practices a lot.

“It’s an option route and there’s a lot of different angles, so it’s hard to stop,” Nix said. “That’s what I want to call because we have the most reps at it and I know exactly where each guy is going to be, and Chase did a good job getting over across the field in man coverage and hooking the ball in and catching it and getting in the end zone. Extremely proud of Chase, he deserved that one.”

Cota said that when he saw the Tar Heels bringing a house blitz, “I knew. It was perfect and Bo saw it. Just an easy touchdown from there.”

Said coach Dan Lanning: “All we needed was time on the clock. It took every fourth down, it took every yard, it took every inch, it took every ounce of effort that our guys had to finish the way they needed to finish.”

North Carolina (9-5) got the ball to the Oregon 42 with one second left before Drake Maye‘s desperation heave into the end zone fell incomplete.

“Very disappointed that we didn’t win, but we’ve got to make a play here or there, and they’re a great football team,” said North Carolina coach Mack Brown, who brought Texas to the Holiday Bowl five times between 2000 and 2011. “Nobody gave us a chance in the game and we had a chance with one second left. That’s all we could ask for in this situation.”

The Ducks finished 10-3 thanks to Nix, who came up big late in the fourth quarter after being held in check much of the second half. He threw a 6-yard TD pass to Troy Franklin with 6:58 to go to pull the Ducks to 24-21.

The Tar Heels took a 27-21 lead with 2:34 to go on Noah Burnette’s 44-yard field goal, his second of the quarter.

Nix then moved the Ducks 79 yards in eight plays for the win, with the drive being aided by a pass interference call.

Nix was 23 of 30 for 205 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.

Maye, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, was 18 of 35 for 206 yards and three scores.

The Tar Heels took a 21-14 lead on Maye’s 49-yard TD pass to Kobe Paysour just before halftime that was set up by an incredible interception by linebacker Power Echols. Echols’ jaw-dropping interception and 40-yard return gave the Tar Heels the ball at the Oregon 49.

With the score tied at 14 and Oregon driving late in the second quarter, Nix threw behind Terrance Ferguson and the ball bounced off the right calf of linebacker Cedric Gray toward Echols, who tipped it up with his right foot before bending over and grabbing it and taking off to the Oregon 49.

Maye then hit Paysour at about the 28 and he outraced the defense into the end zone, where he bowed to the crowd after giving the Tar Heels a 21-14 lead 26 seconds before halftime.

Maye also threw touchdown passes of 6 yards to Andrew Greene Jr. and 14 yards to Bryson Nesbit.

Oregon’s Bucky Irving had touchdown runs of 2 and 66 yards – the third-longest in Holiday Bowl history – in the first half.


Oregon: The thrilling win was a nice finish for the Ducks, whose once-promising season fizzled out in November when they lost two of three after winning eight straight.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels ended with four straight losses, including a 29-point defeat against Clemson in the ACC title game.


Oregon: Nix announced last week that he’ll return for his fifth season of eligibility. “There’s nothing like being an Oregon Duck. For 2023, I’m back,” he said in a video.

North Carolina: Maye recently batted down rumors that he had been offered a $5 million name, image and likeness deal to transfer. Maye had a breakout season that has made him a top prospect for the 2024 NFL draft.

After flip from ND to Oregon, five-star signs with Oklahoma

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Peyton Bowen, the highly-rated defensive back who backed off a verbal commitment to Notre Dame and said he was going to attend Oregon, ended up signing with Oklahoma on Thursday.

Bowen’s flip from the Fighting Irish to the Ducks during a ceremony at his high school in Denton, Texas, was one of the biggest stories Wednesday as college football’s three-day early signing period began. He was one of several high-profile recruits to make a last-minute pivot to Oregon.

But the five-star safety was never officially announced as part of Oregon’s top-10 class.

Bowen posted a statement on social media Thursday, saying he regretted some of his actions and apologizing to the fans of the schools he jilted.

“Navigating this process has been a rollercoaster. … Oregon and Notre Dame faithful, I am sorry for how I handled this process. Changing my decision on signing day, the hat pump fake, all of it could have been handled better. I can’t change what I did but this experience is something I will learn from,” Bowen posted.

Bowen thanked the coaching staffs at Notre Dame and Oregon.

“Oklahoma family, I am excited to join this wonderful program and represent this university going forward!” Bowen said.

Oklahoma later announced Bowen had signed with the school.

The other notable signing of the second day of the early period was by Alabama.

The Crimson Tide, which has already locked up the No. 1 class in the nation, got a commitment from a seventh recruit with a five-star rating, according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings.

Cornerback Desmond Rick, who is from Virginia but played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, was originally set to be a member of the 2024 recruiting class but reclassified to 2023.