LIVE: Gurley returns, as Dogs try to keep SEC East hopes alive

Todd Gurley plays his first game after a four-week suspension. (AP photo)

Todd Gurley shakes hands with teammate Malcolm Mitchell before the game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Todd Gurley shakes hands with teammate Malcolm Mitchell before the game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS — There probably won’t be a moment for the rest of the season when the average Georgia fan doesn’t flash back to the disaster in Jacksonville two weeks ago and think, “Imagine how big the Auburn game could have been.”

But this Auburn game is still pretty big.

Welcome to game night. The No. 15 Bulldogs face the No. 9 Tigers tonight at Sanford Stadium. With losses to South Carolina and Florida, the odds remain against the Bulldogs launching themselves back into the inaugural college football playoff picture. But defeating Auburn would strengthen their hopes of winning the SEC East and, at least theoretically, keep their playoff hopes alive.

This has been a widely anticipated game for two reasons: 1) Auburn has been one of the nation’s top ranked teams all season (ranking third until last week’s loss to Texas A&M); 2) It marks the return of tailback Todd Gurley after a four-game NCAA suspension for profiting off of his autograph.

My view: If Gurley is healthy, the Dogs have the potential to win every game they play the rest of the season — tonight, in two weeks against Georgia Tech, in the SEC championship game and the postseason. Most players coming off a four-week absence show rust. But it’s not like Gurley is coming off an injury. He has been practicing with the team and I don’t expect it will take him long to get up to game speed.

Auburn’s defense has been shaky most of the season, but the Tigers, like Georgia, can run the ball. These are the top two rushing teams in the SEC (Auburn 1, Georgia 2) and two of the top scoring teams (Georgia 1, Auburn 3).

As for the SEC East, here’s the situation:

— By virtue of Florida losing to South Carolina, the Gators (4-4 in the SEC) cannot tie Georgia or win the East. What that means is Georgia (5-2) technically could lose to Auburn and still win the East if Missouri (4-1) loses two of its final three games (remaining schedule: tonight at Texas A&M, at Tennessee, home vs. Arkansas).

— If Georgia wins tonight and Missouri loses, the Dogs will win the East regardless of Missouri’s last two games because the Dogs own the tiebreaker edge. If both teams win, Georgia needs Missouri to lose one of its next two games.

That’s it for now. I’ll be commenting during the game. The cyber-floor is yours.

Links to Todd Gurley photo galleries, which will be updated:

http://www.ajc.com/gallery/sports/gallery-gurleys-back-dogs-play-auburn/gCPXp/

http://www.myajc.com/gallery/sports/gallery-gurleys-back-dogs-play-auburn/gCPXp/

A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: As hoops open, Tech looks far more ready than Georgia
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets cross bridge, Falcons back to normal
— MyAJC: Ladies and gentlemen Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (in basketball, yes now)
— AJC: If Georgia wins out, would it sway playoff committee?
— MyAJC: All eyes are on Gurley (even if you can’t find him)
— AJC: Hart should deal both Uptons and Gattis
— MyAJC: Falcons’ division hopes hinge on beating teams other than Bucs
— AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ win over Tampa Bay
— MyAJC: If Georgia Tech has come together, we’ll find out against Clemson, UGA
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s win over N.C. State
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons’ find their penicillin — the Bucs
— MyAJC: Amid Atlanta misery, can Hawks really be shining light?
— AJC: Election Day: Vote to keep or fire coaches (polls)
— MyAJC: Georgia blows it all with inexcusable performance
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s stunning loss to Florida
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: No Gurley (oooh, scary); but Dogs over Gators
— AJC: Rules are dumb but that’s no excuse for Todd Gurley
— MyAJC: Mark Richt deserves credit for holding Georgia together
— AJC: NCAA mum but Muschamp expects Gurley to play vs. Florida
— AJC: Will Arthur Blank make move with Mike Smith (and reader poll)?
 

Reader Comments 0

925 comments
Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Hey Bucky ,did not take long for Herbstriett to become Buckeye booster # 4 my a$$ ,what a homer Herbie has become. A 7 point win at #25 Minnesota is enough to propel the Buckeyes into final 4 ,BS.

SinceVince
SinceVince

We haven't won the East Folks...  we better concentrate on Beating Tech

HuckFinn1835
HuckFinn1835

Revised Prediction: due to poor luck, cheating Bulldog biased  officials, dropped passes by Tiger players and unnecessary crowd noise"

UGA 31

Auburn 27

Anybody know of a good place that serves a good plate of barbeque crow?

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

@HuckFinn1835 how about we let you off on the crow...just don't post anymore will suffice...go dogs

ruffdawg
ruffdawg

@HuckFinn1835 Guess you can add that Uga left at least 3 TDs  52 - 17 should have been the score.

96JB
96JB

Gurley's dad calling the Mercedes dealer late in game cancelling that order

CHDawg
CHDawg

I wouldn't sell our O short.  The O line keeps improving, and Chubb isn't the same guy he was either. He is gaining confidence each week. A healthy Gurley, Chubb, and Michel is going to challenge any team.

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

@CHDawg O-Line has been stellar all year in my opinion...go dogs

96JB
96JB

Chubb as the feature back next year will lead the SEC in rushing. The guy is just incredible.

96JB
96JB

Malazahn better recruit some defensive players.

CHDawg
CHDawg

ARK can play very well. I watched them shut down Bama. I don't think I have seen Bama's run game stopped cold like that in the last five years.

96JB
96JB

We need a RB in this class. The physical abuse of playing in the SEC shows you never have enough backs. Gurley better tough up before the NFL. 25 carries every week vs defensives  better than what Bama can bring.

CHDawg
CHDawg

@96JB I agree. You can't have enough backs. 3-5 could easily play. Turman might be good, too. Don't forget him.

kerryb
kerryb

The Arkansas team I'm seeing play LSU  tonight that took Bama, and Miss St to the post can beat Mizzou at home.

CHDawg
CHDawg

Where are the clowns who were predicting horrible defeat at the hands of a class A, apex SEC W predator? Huck Finn, and others? OHIO sure disappeared quickly.


kerryb
kerryb

@CHDawg They are all over the place if UGA loses but are no where to be found when they win a big game and kick someones tail.  Cowards.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@CHDawg 

OH-IO was watching FSU toy with Miami most of the game before breaking Bucky's heart by pulling out a 30-26 victory over the Canes. Bucky already was lobbying for the Buckeyes to move up into the top 4.

CHDawg
CHDawg

If Mizz wins out, they deserve the East! Let the best team go! Great win tonight. If our normally sure handed receivers like Conley and iMac were catching balls tonight, it would have been decided much sooner.


96JB
96JB

Bama will kill Auburn also. Their defense has to be in the bottom of the SEC.

96JB
96JB

Proof tonight that power football trumps circus football

96JB
96JB

or like Mizzou tells us.......old man football

96JB
96JB

Ellis Johnson may get a pass tonight as the vaulted Auburn offense got stuffed

chalkdawg4
chalkdawg4

CMR is a fraud.  He will keep cashing the checks.  we were sett up well this year but Richt will always choke in winnable games.

kerryb
kerryb

Arkansas is a better match against Mizzou.   Mizzou has trouble against ground and pound teams.

96JB
96JB

Great win......but we left the East in Jacksonville.

brokenknuckle275
brokenknuckle275

Gurley will be signing autographs out gate 8. Bring  cash only. Video cameras too!

ruffdawg
ruffdawg

We are winning inspite of CMR too soft....But glad we won...CMR is dry

kerryb
kerryb

The fraud team got a total butt kicking tonight.  They were extremely lucky last year.  FSU played the 5th best team in the SEC.  Hope Bama finishes them giving them a 4 loss season.  That's usually the norm for them.

Vampire_Bill
Vampire_Bill

Mason threw the ball well.  Receivers dropped more than a few

SinceVince
SinceVince

Tenn may be our only hope...maybe Arky

Nobody_Knows
Nobody_Knows

@SinceVince


Damn boy.  You are no GA fan


You are just a nobody seeking attention you get nowhere else in your pathetic life

96JB
96JB

gonna be some  property stolen tonight.

SinceVince
SinceVince

Our passing game still stinks.......

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

@SinceVince go away dude...if not for a few dropped passes our passing game was grade A...go dogs

chalkdawg4
chalkdawg4

vince - i say you are right.  we have a loser coach but nobody at uga cares.  

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

@chalkdawg4 why don't you and vince to to the tek blog...where you belong...go dogs

96JB
96JB

Best game Dawgs have played in a long long time. Congrats, Good play and good coaching.