Auburn QB Bo Nix out for the year with broken ankle

Auburn QB Bo Nix will miss Auburn's last three games with a broken ankle.

With a commanding 28-3 lead over Mississippi St. late in the second quarter this past Saturday, all seemed right in the world of Auburn football. Bryan Harsin’s squad was seemingly on its way to improving to 7-3 in his first season on the job.

With games at South Carolina and The Iron Bowl at home looming, a 9-3 regular season was in reach. With a bowl game victory, Harsin could go 10-3 and beat ‘You Know Who’ from up the road.(Lest we forget, Nick Saban’s teams have lost back-to-back games on The Plains.)

Considering the daunting schedule Auburn faced in 2021, including road games at Penn St., at LSU and at Texas A&M (when the Aggies were coming off an open date) and visits to Jordan-Hare Stadium from Georgia and Alabama, I’m confident nearly every Auburn fan would have taken those results back in August.

However, that dude named Will Rogers had other ideas. The second-year Mississippi St. quarterback, who is a legit sleeper Heisman Trophy candidate in 2022, led the Bulldogs to 40 unanswered points. When he found Malik Heath for a six-yard touchdown pass with 5:31 remaining, Mike Leach’s squad took a 43-28 lead.

With third-year sophomore QB Bo Nix limping around, Auburn added a score on Tank Bigsby’s one-yard TD run with 3:37 left. The ill-advised two-point conversion failed, though, prompting fans to head to the exits.

Still, it smells like that type of season in which Auburn beats Alabama. The Tigers have had their moments this year, including Nix’s remarkable performance in Redstick. With his two legendary plays on fourth down at Tiger Stadium on Oct. 2, he singled-handedly dished Ed Orgeron a pink slip less than 21 months after Orgeron led one of the greatest teams in college football history to a national championship. (On second thought, Kentucky had a lot to do with Coach O’s dismissal, too, but Nix’s heroics were the driving catalyst.)

On Sunday afternoon, however, Nix’s 2021 season ended when news surfaced that he sustained a broken ankle in the second half against Mississippi St.

Nix completed 27-of-41 passes for 377 yards and two TDs without an interception in the loss to the Bulldogs, who beat a ranked team on Leach’s watch for the fifth time in his two-year tenure. Leach’s teams also improved to 23-10 versus the number as road underdogs in his last 33 such spots.

For the season, Nix completed 61.0 percent of his throws for 2,294 yards with an 11/3 TD-INT ratio. He also ran for 154 yards and four TDs.

TJ Finley will get the starting nod Saturday against the Gamecocks, who beat Auburn 30-22 as three-point home underdogs at Williams-Brice Stadium last year. The former LSU signal caller rallied the Tigers to a 34-24 home win vs. Georgia St. in Week 4.

Auburn was trailing the Sun Belt program 24-12 in the third quarter when Harsin pulled Nix for Finley. He completed 9-of-16 passes for 97 yards and one TD without an interception. He also had 15 rushing yards on three attempts.

On a fourth-and-nine play with 45 seconds left, Auburn trailed 24-19. Ga. St. brought a blitz and Finley looked like toast. Somehow he eluded the blitzing defender and found some space scrambling to his right before firing a 10-yard TD pass to Shedrick Jackson.

Finley hit Kobe Hudson for a three-yard pass on a successful two-point conversion, and then safety Smoke Monday produced a pick-six to put the game on ice.

For the season, Finley has connected on 17-of-33 passes for 275 yards and two TDs without an interception. He has six rushing yards and one TD on five carries.

Finley started five games as a true freshman for LSU in 2020. He completed 80-of-140 throws (57.1%) for 941 yards and five TDs compared to five interceptions. Finley ran for 34 yards and one TD on 29 attempts.

Finley’s first career start came in Baton Rouge vs. South Carolina last season. He led LSU to a 52-24 win over the Gamecocks by completing 17-of-21 passes for 265 yards and two TDs with one interception. Finley also ran for 24 yards and one TD on eight totes.

He also faced Alabama last year in a 55-17 loss. Finley completed 14-of-28 passes for 144 yards and one TD without an interception.

Before the Nix news broke yesterday, Circa Sports and Caesars both opened Auburn as a 10.5-point favorite at South Carolina. DraftKings opened the Tigers as 11.5-point road ‘chalk.’ As of late Monday morning, that number was down to seven at most books. William Hill and FanDuel had AU -6.5. The total was 44.5 points at most spots.

South Carolina is 1-1 both straight up and against the spread in a pair of home underdog situations this year. The Gamecocks are 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS in five home games. They’re trying to get bowl eligible for the first time since 2018.

Kickoff in Columbia is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

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