Oregon coach Dan Lanning says he's never been around a quarterback who understands his role quite as well as Bo Nix.
"There’s times that we’re there as a coaching staff on the sidelines saying, ‘OK wait, wait, what is he checking to? Oh, all right. Good, that’ll work.’ And he gets it right a lot more often than not," Lanning said.
Nix is coming off one of his most efficient performances of the season during Oregon's 35-6 victory at No. 13 Utah. The fifth-year senior threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for another score.
This season he's averaging 292.1 passing yards a game, 11th in the nation, with 21 touchdowns, fifth nationally. He's run for 113 yards and three additional scores.
But perhaps one of his most telling metrics is his 78.3 completion percentage, which is on pace to break Mac Jones’ NCAA record of 77.4% set in 2021.
That has the attention of California coach Justin Wilcox. The No. 6 Ducks (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12, No. 6 CFP) host the Golden Bears (3-5, 1-4) on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
“He handles a lot at the line of scrimmage. He knows what he’s doing, he knows where to go with the ball and they don’t get sacked,” Wilcox said. “He’s an excellent player.”
Nix is getting Heisman Trophy buzz, although he's facing competition from fellow Pac-12 quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who has helped keep No. 5 Washington undefeated. The Huskies downed the Ducks 36-33 earlier this season.
Nix understands the Heisman speculation is part of the game, but he's keeping his eye on titles.
“We have it right in front of us, we can feel it and that’s all we want to take care of. Really all the talk is just chatter and noise and we need to make sure we don’t get distracted by it,” Nix said. ”Myself included.”
As a result of his play against the Utes, Nix was named the Pac-12's Offensive Player of the Week. It was his fifth weekly honor as a Duck, matching Oregon's lone Heisman winner, Marcus Mariota.
Jaydyn Ott is the Pac-12's top rusher with an average of 107.7 yards a game. Last Saturday, in Cal's 50-49 loss to USC, Ott ran for 153 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns — including TD runs of 43 and 61 yards. But he didn't play the fourth quarter because of an apparent injury.
“Feeling good, everything is going well,” Ott said this week.
Wilcox was confident Ott could play against the Ducks.
“We’re ready for him to get back to full speed,” Wilcox said. “When he’s out there he's a dynamic player so we’re looking forward to having him back.”
THE END OF THE ROAD
Oregon leads the all-time series against Cal 42-41-2 and has won four straight in the series. The Ducks have so dominated at home in recent years that Cal has won just once — back in 2007 — at Autzen Stadium in the past 35 years. In that game, the Golden Bears upset No. 11 Oregon 31-24. Desean Jackson caught 11 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
“There are a lot of lasts. We’ll see where all this goes in the next five years, 10 years with conferences and all that,” Wilcox said. “I do have feelings about conference realignment but now is not the time to discuss that. We’re 100% focused on the game this weekend.”
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