Quan Bray

With Todd Gurley back, it’s Nick Chubb powering Georgia to haltime lead on Auburn

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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.

Auburn’s D’haquille Williams tweets he won’t travel to Georgia

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The Auburn Tigers’ leading receiver, D’haquille Williams, wasn’t expected to play this weekend against the No. 15 Georgia Bulldogs. But Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wouldn’t completely rule him out earlier in the week.

If Malzahn was looking for a slight pre-game advantage by leaving Williams’ status up in the air, the wide receiver ruined the little bit of gamesmanship with one tweet Friday afternoon.

Williams reportedly suffered an MCL sprain and a knee bruise Saturday against the Texas A&M Aggies. The junior wide receiver only registered one catch for 11 yards before leaving the game.

The JUCO transfer is Auburn’s leading receiver this season by a wide margin. Williams has 13 more receptions than senior Quan Bray and 190 more yards than junior Sammie Coates.

Auburn clearly has depth at the position, though. Bray, Coates and junior Ricardo Lewis can still provide the vertical threats necessary to make Auburn’s offense truly dangerous when its clicking on all cylinders.

Williams will likely miss next week’s game against an FCS opponent, the Samford Bulldogs, to get fully healthy for Auburn’s Nov. 29 meeting with the Alabama Crimson Tide in this year’s rendition of the Iron Bowl.

‘Unlikely’ Auburn’s D’haquille Williams plays vs. Georgia

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There’s good and not-so-good news on the D’haquille Williams front.

The good is that the Auburn wide receiver, who suffered what appeared to be a rather significant knee injury in the upset loss to Texas A&M, reportedly sustained “just” a sprained MCL and knee bruise. The not-so-good? It doesn’t appear the receiver will be available for the Tigers’ next SEC test.

Tuesday, Gus Malzahn said that while he is “not ready to say that” Williams will miss Saturday’s game against Georgia, the head coach did state it’s “unlikely” he’ll be available. It had previously been reported that Williams will indeed miss the UGA game.

Even if it’s just for one game, Williams’ loss would be a significant one, especially coming against a quality opponent.

Williams is easily the Tigers’ leading receiver, topping the team in receptions (38), receiving yards (609) and receiving touchdowns (five). No. 2 Sammie Coates has 20 and 416, while Quan Bray has three receiving touchdowns.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 5 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

THUMBS UP

Exorcising the Raleigh ghosts
When it comes Raleigh, NC, that college town has served as Florida State’s kryptonite over the past couple of decades.  Six times since 1998 a ranked FSU squad lost to North Carolina State, the most recent coming in 2012.  The Wolfpack were looking to continue that rather bizarre run of success, jumping out to a 24-7 first-quarter lead and holding a 10-point lead with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The reigning Heisman winner and one of his backfield sidekicks, however, weren’t having any of that.

In his first game since a one-game suspension, Winston tossed a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes to give the ‘Noles their first lead of the game at 42-38.  A Karlos Williams one-yard touchdown run three minutes into the fourth quarter essentially put the game away — Winston’s inexplicable interception, which had Jimbo Fisher downright irate, notwithstanding — while Williams’ 12-yard scamper with just over two minutes remaining put the exclamation point on the closer-than-it-looked 56-41 win.  Winston wound up completing 26-of-38 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns while Williams added 126 yards and three touchdowns to stave off the upset bid.

The win kept FSU’s winning streak alive, extending its school record to 20 straight.  However, the Seminoles have already seen its stranglehold on the top spot in the Top 25 rankings loosened over the past couple of weeks; it’s highly likely that support will weaken yet again when the polls are released Sunday afternoon.  Will it be enough to knock them off the perch?  Probably not this week, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if a team like Oklahoma or Alabama leapfrogged the defending BCS champions.

Good gawd Gurley
You would have to do a pretty damn good job to convince me that Todd Gurley is not the best football player in the country this year.  In Georgia’s nail-biting  35-32 win over Tennessee Between the Hedges, the junior running back rushed for a career-high 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns; 129 of those yards came in the pivotal fourth quarter.  One of the scores was a 51-yard thing of beauty that put the back’s exceptional vision and cutting ability on full display.   On his next run after that, he hurdled a Vols defender on his way to a 26-yard gain midway through the fourth quarter.  Provided he stays healthy the remainder of the season, there’s simply no way Gurley won’t at least receive a mid-December invitation to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.  If Mark Richt & Company continues to feed the beast, that is.

Elementary, my dear Watson
Against North Carolina Saturday, Deshaun Watson became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Clemson in 20 years (Nealon Greene, 1994 vs. South Carolina). Watson’s debut as a starter was a monster one as the five-star 2014 signee completed 27-of-36 passes for 434 yards and six touchdowns.  The scoring tosses are a school record for a freshman, or for any other class for that matter, as well as an ACC record for a frosh. According to a note from the school, the Tigers are now 5-12 all-time in games started by first-year freshman quarterbacks; three of those five wins have come at the expense of the Tar Heels.  Based on Watson’s play in his first outing, it appears likely he’ll get the opportunity to add to that overall win total as, barring injury, there’s little doubt it’s his job moving forward.

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No. 5 Auburn impales San Jose State, ready for tussle with K-State

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No. 5 Auburn treated San Jose State like, well, you’d expect a top-five team to treat a cross-country visitor from the Mountain West.

The game was deadlocked at 7-7 midway through the first quarter after Spartans quarterback Blake Jurich hit Tyler Ervin for a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown, but Auburn posted 28 straight points to put the proper amount of distance between themselves and the Spartans.

Nick Marshall played the lion’s share of the snaps at quarterback, completing 10-of-19 throws for 101 yards and a touchdown and adding 11 rushes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Cameron Artis-Payne combined for 199 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 25 attempts, and as a team Auburn totaled 50 rushes for 358 yards and six touchdowns. Interestingly enough, sophomore quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw only four passes on the night, completing three for 34 yards and adding a one-yard touchdown plunge. For the year he’s completed 15-of-20 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns.

Auburn’s numbers could have been even more gaudy, but Quan Bray returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 28-7. They led 38-10 at the half, and cruised to a 59-13 win.

Outside of the 75-yard touchdown, San Jose State passers completed 18-of-31 passes for 179 yards and three interceptions. Oh, and the Spartans were credited with 45 rushes for 65 yards.

Auburn has a quick turnaround, with the 20th-ranked and (barely) undefeated Kansas State Fighting Snyders waiting in Manhattan on Thursday night.