One of the Tigers’ greatest QBs got off to a legendary start
The 1993 Iron Bowl that spearheaded Patrick Nix’s college career has taken on an almost mythical status in Auburn lore. The game was not televised and fans of both schools in attendance each left with their own take on the heroics surrounding the sophomore quarterback’s debut.
“The story has been exaggerated over the years,” Nix told ESPN. “One time it’s me throwing the winning pass, a last-second pass and all this kind of stuff, and none of that was true. It was the middle of the third quarter and we were still losing.”
So, what really happened?
Though a national title was not an option for Auburn in 1993 due to NCAA sanctions, a perfect season was almost within grasp for starting quarterback Stan White and the No. 6 Tigers. All that remained on the docket was to win the annual Iron Bowl against defending national champion and 11th-ranked Alabama.
Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium sold out, but that didn’t stop Alabama from making money, too. Because Auburn could not play on TV that year, Alabama opened its gates for 47,421 fans to watch the game on a video board across an empty field at Bryant-Denny, making it known as the only game to “sell out” two stadiums. Although Alabama had much more available seating, tickets for those sections were not sold because of the screen’s placement in the stadium. Regardless, plenty of eyes were watching when the Tigers’ hopes of a 11-0 season seemingly came crashing down around them.
White suffered a knee injury and had to exit the final game of his career, tossing backup Nix out to the wolves—or in this case, elephants. Then in the third quarter, White was laying on a bench having his knee examined when the crowd at Jordan-Hare went wild.
“I did not physically see the play,” White told AuburnTigers.com. “I basically heard the play.”
Nix had connected with receiver Frank Sanders on a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-15 to set up an eventual 22-14 comeback win over the Tide. Soon, the conflicting retellings of Nix’s exploits began to swirl around the country, but his true story had just begun.
“Someone asked me the other day if this kind of game can make or break somebody,” Nix told ESPN, “and I think I’m living proof that it can.”
Though this performance is certainly one of the most iconic of his career, Nix continued to live up to the hype by leading the Tigers to 9-1-1 and 8-4 seasons his next two years as the starter. In his time at Auburn from 1992-1995, Nix completed 386 of 656 passes for 4,957 yards with 31 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and rushed for 313 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Nix’s name has been firmly established as an Auburn great, and his son, Bo, is expected to compete for the role of Auburn’s starting quarterback this coming year. Bo was one of the nation’s top-ranked recruits out of Pinson Valley High School in Pinson, Alabama, where he was coached by his father and won back-to-back state championships in 2017 and 2018.
Can Bo conjure up the same heroics against Alabama that his father did, 26 years ago? We’ll have to wait and see, not wait and listen.
After all, the game is certain to be televised. H&A
All photos courtesy Auburn Athletics
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