With the college football season closing in, we kick off our debate series by comparing some of the better players across the college football landscape. Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned debate?
Here we evaluate a pair of high-caliber Pac-12 quarterbacks who have the attention of college football fans and NFL talent evaluators. Oddly enough, when stacking up the Pac-12 QB Rankings, neither Bo Nix nor Michael Penix Jr. started their college journeys in the Pac-12 and both transferred in from other programs.
Still, our analysts attempt to answer the question: Who is the better Pac-12 QB: Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr.?
Pac-12 QB Rankings: Bo Nix vs. Michael Penix Jr.
The debate for top Pac-12 quarterback after Caleb Williams is a ferocious one. As such, our analysts were given the question “Who is better: Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr.?” and asked to run with it. With each analyst believing their side is the right camp to back, they provide analysis on behalf of their quarterback below.
All analysis belongs to each analyst.
Why Bo Nix Is The Better Pac-12 QB
My stance on the Bo Nix vs. Michael Penix Jr. debate is relatively straightforward: I believe Bo Nix is the better player; he has always been the better player, and in the eyes of NFL talent evaluators, Nix is the better pro prospect.
Nix emerged as the best player coming out of Alabama as a high school prep star, and the state of Alabama knows a thing or two about football. Nix accumulated 12,000 total yards and 160 touchdowns, earning him the title of Mr. Alabama following his senior season.
Starting at Auburn as a true freshman, Nix capped off his inaugural season by defeating Alabama in the Iron Bowl, 48-45, ultimately securing the title of SEC Freshman of the Year.
Throughout his career in the SEC, Nix consistently teased Auburn fans with his tantalizing skill set. Although he never fully realized his potential during his time at Tiger, his talent remained evident just below the surface.
His transfer to Oregon proved to be a beneficial move, as the Ducks’ offensive strategy unleashed his latent potential. Nix showcased his prowess by throwing for 3,594 yards and 29 touchdowns, with a mere seven interceptions. Improved decision-making became apparent, and his talent shone brightly in 2022.
One distinguishing factor between Nix and Penix Jr. lies in Nix’s capabilities as a runner. Nix, a sensational athlete, had his versatility exploited by the Oregon coaching staff during his first season in Eugene.
Nix exhibited his running prowess with an impressive 510 rushing yards and an astonishing 14 touchdowns on the ground. His multifaceted approach, be it through the air or on the ground, confounded opposing defenses.
Looking ahead to Nix’s final college football season, the trajectory is decidedly positive, and I would be astonished if he didn’t continue to progress.
Both Nix and Penix Jr. are exceptional football players, and as ardent college football enthusiasts, we are privileged to witness their return in 2023. In this comparison, I lean towards giving the edge to Nix.
Nix possesses greater athletic gifts and is now effectively harnessing those attributes. As the year unfolds, it’s likely that in 2023, Nix will distinguish himself further from Penix Jr., leaving little doubt that he stands as the superior Pac-12 QB.
Why Michael Penix Jr. Is The Better Pac-12 QB
Penix Jr. is an elite college quarterback. The media overlooks Penix Jr., and he still wound up eighth in the Heisman voting last season. Penix Jr. will not only be one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12, but he will also be one of the most influential quarterbacks in the country this season.
He finished the 2022 season with 31 passing touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Remarkably consistent, Penix Jr. had a touchdown in every game of the season.
While some stats may undersell Penix Jr.’s abilities, he was efficient on an incredibly consistent basis. He finished 30th in completion percentage, 65.2% and 19th in interception percentage, 1.4%.
The key for Penix Jr. is his control of the game. He is a patient, confident passer. Penix Jr. was only sacked five times all season, but Penix Jr. was untouchable at home, taking zero sacks.
Displaying an ever-present clutch gene, Penix Jr. only threw two second-half interceptions, completing 65.2% of his passes on the season and 71.2% on 3rd downs.
These stats are even more impressive, considering how much the Huskies relied on Penix Jr. and his abilities. He finished 2022 with 4,641 passing yards, the second-most in the nation, and had the fourth-most pass attempts per game: 43.
The Washington Huskies had 975 pass and rush attempts last season, and Penix Jr. accounted for a staggering 60% of them.
Washington’s defense allowed the 65th-most points per game, but Penix Jr. covered the Huskies’ ills and led them to an 11-2 record.