Oregon had sent players to New York City for the Heisman ceremony with Joey Harrington (2001) and LaMichael James (2010), and were denied twice. Then, finally, the brilliance of quarterback Marcus Mariota was just too much to bet against, and a Duck had finally won the coveted trophy.
In what has essentially become a quarterbacks award these days, Oregon’s Bo Nix has planted himself firmly in the midst of finalist hopefuls with a masterful performance against USC and last year’s winner Caleb Williams.
So what is it that could potentially nab Nix the award? Well, altogether, he is probably the most complete quarterback in the NCAA.
What exactly does that mean?
Washington’s Michael Penix Jr is the best passer, but offers little threat with his running. The aforementioned Williams may be the most flashy of the signal-callers, but is more mistake-prone. UNCs Drake Maye is probably the most polished and NFL-ready QB, but his team isn’t in national contention.
Nix, the most accurate passer in the country, can beat defenses in so many ways. His deep ball is a rocket, and he’s always a threat to hit that home-run pass. His escapability is elite, and he’s as slippery as they come. His open-field running is blazing, even if it hasn’t been on display as much as it was last season. And finally, his off-balance and improvised passes are a sight to behold, leaving fans in awe and opponents scratching their heads.
But perhaps above all else, the man doesn’t make many mistakes. Even his interceptions this year have come on bobbled catches that somehow ended up in a defenders hands.
Recognizing all this, if Oregon can win out and claim the conference title and a possible spot in the CFP, there’s no real reason to think Nix couldn’t bring home the brass.
So what’s standing in the way?
Outside of Oregon’s clever marketing, there wasn’t a whole lot of Heisman Hype surrounding Nix heading into the season. In fact, he was considered the third “best” quarterback in the conference for quite some time. His and Oregon’s play as of late has forced people to consider him, but pre and early season glitter never hurts one’s chances.
Secondly, if Oregon were to make it to Vegas but fail to overcome UW a second time, Penix would have the advantage of winning all of the head-to-head matchups, which, in essence, come down to more than just quarterback play, but it wouldn’t look good if one contender was 0-3 vs the other.
Finally, and this has simply been an issue for Oregon for decades, there's the school prestige factor.
The Ducks are well known as a new-agey team and since the 2000s, have garnered plenty of national attention. But they don’t have the historic resumes nor the size and notoriety of the Michigans, Alabamas, and Notre Dames.
So where does this actually leave us?
Most likely the chances will hinge on Oregon’s ability to win out and defeat Washington for the conference crown. If that happens and Nix just plays like he has been, he will be in New York.
What happens in New York, however, is still anyone’s guess.