June 22, 2024

LAS VEGAS — Oregon quarterback Bo Nix knew the question was coming, but he hadn’t allowed himself a chance to think about a response. He was still processing a game and possibly a season and five-year college football career coming to an abrupt end with a 34-31 loss to Washington in the Pac-12 championship.

A decision on whether he would play in the Ducks’ upcoming bowl game would have to wait.

“Can we just enjoy the moment right now and enjoy our season?” Nix asked. “That’s not today’s decision. I have no idea.”

Nix, a fifth-year senior who is now 23 years old, has made 60 career starts in college football — 34 at Auburn and now 26 at Oregon. His career stats are straight out of a video game — 14,750 passing yards and 105 touchdowns — but he’d never had a season better than this one, totaling 4,000 passing yards on a 77% completion percentage, 40 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Oregon, led by Nix, had done nearly everything right this season to give itself an opportunity to win the Pac-12 and have a shot at the College Football Playoff. It couldn’t, however, do one crucial thing twice: beat Washington.

“We didn’t play well enough to win this game,” head coach Dan Lanning said postgame. “We didn’t have their number; they had ours.”

After being down 20-3 at one point in the first half on Friday night, Nix and the Oregon offense woke up and brought the Ducks all the way back, scoring 21 unanswered points to take a lead in the second half. But after Washington counterpunched with 14 points in the fourth quarter, Oregon couldn’t respond.

With the Ducks’ 11-win season now over, questions about Nix’s bowl game status began to emerge. Nix, however, said he was still coming to terms with the finality of it all. Before Friday night’s loss, there had always been a next game to look forward to, or a next season.

“I’m just trying to get over that loss, I’m not thinking about anything else,” Nix said. “I think that’s why I’m in shock because I’m expecting a game next week and I’m expecting another opponent. It’s tough when you’re used to go, go, go, and then when it ends it happens very quickly.”

Oregon is likely to play in a New Years’ Six bowl and, as linebacker Jeff Bassa said postgame, the team might look very different come that matchup.

“Obviously, there’s going to be guys that make decisions to leave and go into the NFL,” Bassa said. “And then there’s going to be guys that are going to leave and head into the portal.”

While Nix was noncommittal about his bowl game status ahead of what’s expected to be a move to the NFL draft, his answers hinted at what that decision might be. He spoke at length about how he has been through every possible up and down in the sport, how it was his dream to play college football and how he has experienced everything from conference realignment, to the advent of the transfer portal and NIL, to a pandemic.

“Each year was something different, each year was something new,” Nix said. “I’m going to miss college football.”

Nix then exited the room where he was first greeted by Washington coach Kalen DeBoer before congratulating quarterback Michael Penix Jr. on the win. The Huskies quarterback was entering the press room as a conference champion in the last great quarterback duel of a now-defunct Pac-12. At least one more meaningful game was in his future.

Whether or not Nix plays in the bowl game, there are no more competitive college games left in his long career. As he jumped on a golf cart and rode off into the Allegiant Stadium tunnel alongside his dad, however, he had already found something else to look forward to.

“There’s way more to life than college football,” Nix said. “As crazy as it sounds, I’m going to enjoy this plane ride home.”

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