AUBURN, Alabama (AP) – Bo Nix had 275 yards and three touchdowns in just over the half, and Auburn gave new coach Bryan Harsin a 60-10 pie on his debut against Akron on Saturday night in the first game of the season for both teams.
It was a promising start even as it came up against some underdogs with five touchdowns, especially for an offense and a quarterback that had drawn some criticism over the past two years.
Nix was nearly perfect his first time running the offense from Harsin and coordinator Mike Bobo, hitting 20 of 22 passes while hitting a few open receivers for touchdowns. Auburn sprinted to take a 37-0 halftime lead and scored in his first eight practices, reaching the end zone on seven of them.
Tailback Tank Bigsby, last year’s Southeastern Conference freshman, gave the Tigers some balance. He ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns in just 13 carries.
Shaun Shivers got hit and rushed off. Freshman Jarquez Hunter ran for 110 yards and a last-minute score.
Nix only played one streak in the second half, giving way to LSU transfer TJ Finley. The third-year Auburn starter completed his first 11 assists.
The Tigers edged Akron 612-212 in total yards.
Akron turned to Kato Nelson for quarterback after missing last season with shoulder surgery, although coach Tom Arth was silent on his starter during the week. Nelson and the Zips offensive were blocked. He completed 9 of 14 passes for 62 yards.
Backup DJ Irons was much more successful, completing his 13 passes for 129 yards and one touchdown and leading a late practice.
Take it away
Akron: The Zips took some bad bets, being stopped twice in fourth downs in their home turf in the first half. It really didn’t matter much since little was working offensively or defensively, and they even gave up a safety on a punt. Akron ended a 21-game losing streak on Dec. 5 against Bowling Green.
Auburn: Admittedly, the competition was not of SEC caliber at all, but the Tigers did business in Harsin’s debut after going 6-5 last season before firing coach Gus Malzahn. Derek Mason’s defense was dominant.
Running back Shaun Shivers made his first career touchdown (19 yards) before halftime, as did receivers Ja’Varrius Johnson (34) and Kobe Hudson (28). Johnson and Hudson were flying wide open in the middle as the 189-pound Shivers lowered his shoulder into a defenseman at the goal line.
Akron will play their home opener next Saturday against Temple.
Auburn faces off against opponent FCS Alabama State for about an hour on I-85 in Montgomery.
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