Mark Richt didn't exactly ease Todd Gurley back into the mix in the Georgia rushing rotation Saturday. And after a four-game suspension, the star junior looked like his dominant self until a left knee injury ended his night.
Gurley fed on a season-high 29 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown to help the Bulldogs to a 34-7 home drubbing of Auburn, keeping UGA in the hunt for an SEC East title, and as well marking the return of one of college football's elite talents. But late in the game, Gurley took a carry up the middle and suffered an undisclosed injury to his left knee. He was carted off the field.
In his postgame press conference, Richt acknowledged Gurley hurt his knee, but wasn't able to shed any light on the severity of the injury.
"Don't know, I really don't know," Richt told reporters. "I'm just as curious as everyone else. ... He hurt his knee."
Gurley scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter to put UGA ahead 24-7, essentially putting the game out of reach for an Auburn team that has gone from College Football Playoff aspirations to the three-loss club in the last eight days. Things started slowly for Gurley, who didn't touch the ball on UGA's first offensive series, and was later tackled for a loss on his first two carries. But it didn't take long for the 230-pound power back to find midseason form, and he broke his longest run (31 yards) in the fourth quarter to put himself over the 100-yard mark for the night.
While Gurley was heavily relied on with 29 carries, his replacement during his suspension for accepting money for autographed memorabilia was even more effective. Freshman Nick Chubb ran 19 times for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns as UGA rolled up nearly 300 rushing yards as a team.