Todd Gurley may be back for Georgia, but Nick Chubb has been leading the way on the ground for the Bulldogs in the first half while Gurley gets back in the mix. Behind the running of Chubb and Gurley, Georgia owns a 17-7 halftime lead on the visiting Tigers.
After being upset at home last week by unranked Texas A&M, No. 9 Auburn made sure to get off on the right foot this week on the road against No. 15 Georgia. On the opening offensive possession of the game, Auburn marched right down the field on Georgia’s defense. Cameron Artis-Payne capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown run for the first score of the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Todd Gurley made his return official by returning the Auburn kickoff 32 yards. An offensive holding penalty brought the ball back to the Georgia 22-yard line, but Gurley was back. He did not touch the football on Georgia’s first possession, but he did on Georgia’s second possession. Auburn knew it was coming though, stuffing both Gurley runs for a total loss of three yards. Georgia ended up having to punt the ball away, but Auburn’s Quan Bray fumbled away the football to Georgia’s punt coverage team.
Starting just inside the red zone, Gurley carried the football for an 11-yard gain to help set up a Hutson Mason touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell three plays later to tie the game at 7-7. Chubb later added a touchdown run to go with his team-high 67 yards. Georgia added a late field goal by Marshall Morgan to take a 17-7 lead.
Both teams need a win to keep their respective division championship hopes alive. With Mississippi State’s loss to Alabama, Auburn needs to keep pace with the Crimson Tide. The Iron Bowl once again could determine the SEC West, just as it did a year ago. Georgia is also looking to keep pace with Missouri. Missouri leads the SEC East by one game and is currently playing at Texas A&M.
Tennessee may have just clinched the spot for most painful loss of the season. After Georgia drove down field at the end of regulation to tie the game with seconds to spare, Tennessee had a touchdown wiped out by instant replay in overtime. Alton Howard swept to the right sideline and lunged for the end zone. Unfortunately for the Vols, that second effort may have ended up costing Tennessee the game. Howard lost control of the football at the one-yard line and the football went out-of-bounds for a touchback after the video review. A game-winning field goal by Marshall Morgan gave Georgia the 34-31 victory to keep BCS championship plans in order.
The win may have been a costly one for Georgia, with a number of players needing to be treated for injuries.
Without Todd Gurley going in to the game, Georgia lost their next top running threat when Keith Marshall had to be taken out with a left knee injury. He would later return t the sidelines on crutches and street clothes, but there is no update on the severity of the injury and none should be available until Mark Richt‘s regularly scheduled Sunday press conference. Wide receivers Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley each had to be taken out of the game for leg injuries. Bennett’s injury was very alarming as it was to the same right knee he had previously suffered an ACL injury.The injury list continued to grow so much it even left Georgia without punter Collin Barber, who would be sidelined with a concussion.
The wild second half started with Tennessee cutting in to Georgia’s halftime lead and tying the game at 17-17. Tennessee’s defense came out with a new attitude after the break and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown brought the Vols back from a 17-3 deficit. The fourth quarter saw each team put up 14 more points. Tennessee looked to have the game’s momentum with a touchdown drive assisted by three separate fourth-down conversions. But if there is anything the past month has demonstrated it is that as long as Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is healthy, the Bulldogs have a chance. Murray, who set a new SEC career passing yardage record during the game, led Georgia down field for a game-tying score with seconds to spare. A short pass to Rantavious Wooten tied the game at 31-31.
Georgia will return home next week to play Missouri in another SEC East battle. Georgia has scored at least 40 points in Athens in each of their first three home games this season. How many players are available for the Bulldogs will remain to be seen.
Tennessee will continue a brutal three-game stretch after a bye week. In two weeks Tennessee will host South Carolina and the following week will visit Alabama.