When Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. square off Saturday afternoon on national television, it’ll be college football’s most watched game of the week.
The stakes are high – both teams enter the matchup ranked inside the AP top-10, and while only the College Football Playoff rankings actually matter, it’s safe to say this game has considerable postseason implications.
Two-and-half years ago, if you told anyone in the press or on social media Bo Nix and Michael Penix would headline a Saturday slate of college football that included Notre Dame vs. USC and Texas A&M vs. Tennessee, you’d probably get a Nick Cannon-adjacent reaction. If you added in the tidbit that both have carried their team into the national title conversation and are bordering on first round NFL draft picks, well, you’d be ignored and labeled clinically insane.
When Bo Nix announced his decision to enter the transfer portal, Auburn fans rejoiced.
Auburn fans celebrating rn— Robert 💔💔 (@RobertRaymond46) December 13, 2021
One of the most overrated QBs in college football— Mattt Milller (@Mattm334863) December 13, 2021
Good god thank you!— ᧁׁꭈׁׅꫀׁׅܻ ꩇׁׅ݊ᥣׁׅ֪ꪱׁׅꪀׁׅ ꩇׁׅ݊ᨵׁׅժׁׅ݊ꫀׁׅܻ (@grindinghalt) December 13, 2021
This was just a small sample of a sea of disrespectful tweets celebrating the departure of one of the most talented quarterbacks in college football. Nix was always a gifted passer, even at Auburn. He just wasn’t in a great system and didn’t have many weapons around him so he forced some throws. The decision to transfer to Oregon not only put him a made him millions of dollars in draft value.
Meanwhile, Auburn is stumbling through the SEC with Payton Thorne and his 1:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio at quarterback.
Perhaps Auburn fans will reconsider the next time they throw one of their own under the bus.
In his first two years as a full-time starter at Indiana, Michael Penix was electric.
The lefty gunslinger threw for over three thousand yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions in those two seasons before suffering a major injury.
The following season, he was a different player in the worst way imaginable. He hardly completed 50 percent of his passes and for every touchdown he threw, he tossed nearly two interceptions.
Washington fans were skeptical when he announced his commitment to play for the Huskies the following year.
Nice backup or 3rd stringer for Washington. Incredible that people still think this dude is good. He is truly not good.— Casey (@SDCoachCJ) December 14, 2021
As a Husky fan, after MSU first, I don't like this at all. Great kid, but he's a shell of himself after all the injuries…— Maximus Decimus Meridius (@MirrorWave13) December 14, 2021
All the transfer QB's out there and we end up with Penix?— Robert White (@515bobwhite) December 14, 2021
Did not play well last season at Indiana. Good luck.— Corey Oliver Hester (@corehest) December 14, 2021
The so-called “Mr. Glass” has been the paragon of good health since heading to the Pacific Northwest and his numbers have been downright sickening – 6,640 yards, 47 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in one-and-a-half seasons thus far. He’s currently the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, and Bo Nix is just two spots behind him.
Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. were not the celebrated quarterbacks they are now just two years ago, and regardless of Saturday’s result, both can take solace in knowing they made the right move for their respective careers.
They could’ve listened to the negativity on social media and TV. Instead, they focused on what they could control and got better. It’s easier said than done, so all of the success they’ve experienced these last two seasons have been well earned.
Enjoy the matchup Saturday – the winner will put themselves in pole position to win the Heisman while their team will inch closer to the College Football Playoff.
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Zach Mason is an independent journalist based in Seoul. A former correspondent for the San Antonio Express-News, Mason also has several bylines in the Houston Chronicle and Dallas Morning News. Support Zach’s work by following him on X and subscribing to the newsletter above.