COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — No Todd Gurley? No problem for Georgia.
This time, anyway.
Freshman Nick Chubb rushed 38 times for 143 yards and one touchdown as the 13th-ranked Bulldogs shut out No. 23 Missouri 34-0. Georgia (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) wore down the Tigers (4-2, 1-1) early, possessing the ball for more than 42 minutes and gaining 379 total yards on 87 plays.
”Everybody said that Georgia was dead without Todd,” Chubb said. ”But we proved that we’re still in it.”
Gurley was suspended indefinitely on Thursday while the school investigates an alleged violation of NCAA rules. It was a stunning blow for Gurley, who had been making a strong case for Heisman contention. The reason for the investigation hasn’t been disclosed, but SI.com reported that Gurley allegedly received $400 to sign 80 pieces of memorabilia on the Georgia campus.
Georgia looked undaunted by his absence – even as fans held up ”Free Gurley” signs from the stands.
”We need to show everybody and show ourselves that there’s 10 other guys on offense that are making this thing go,” quarterback Hutson Mason said.
After two first-quarter field goals by Marshall Morgan, Mason faked a handoff to Chubb before running 11 yards into the end zone with 10:57 remaining in the opening half. The fifth-year senior skipped out of the end zone punching the air, jubilant after entering the game averaging 137.4 passing yards.
Mason found Michael Bennett streaking toward the corner of the end zone for a touchdown five minutes later as Missouri’s first sellout crowd of the season – an attendance of 71,168 – started voicing its displeasure.
Mason backed up Aaron Murray last year. Without Gurley, he’ll be counted on to help lead the team moving forward. He said he’s adopted a new mindset to try and not put too much pressure on himself.
”Not try to get everything right,” he said. ”Just playing off instincts and reacting. That’s what got me here and I think that’s what allows me to play at my highest level.”
Mason finished with 156 yards and one touchdown on 22-of-28 passing.
The Tigers appeared to get something going with three minutes left in the second quarter on offense as they reached Georgia territory for the first time, but linebacker Leonard Floyd hit Maty Mauk’s arm as he was about to throw, forcing Missouri’s first lost fumble of the season.
Down 20-0 entering the break, Missouri showed little improvement in the second half. Mauk threw interceptions to end his team’s first two drives out of the locker room. Georgia’s Brendan Douglas then ran 15 yards for a touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter for a 27-point advantage.
Mauk completed nine of 21 passes for 97 yards and accounted for five turnovers, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble. The sophomore quarterback said it was the worst game he’s played.
”And I don’t plan on doing it again, either,” he said.
Missouri gained just 147 total yards on 43 plays, and was held scoreless for the first time since 2002. The Tigers finished 0-for-7 on third-down conversions and failed to reach Georgia’s 20-yard line.
Two weeks after erasing a 13-point deficit at South Carolina in the final seven minutes, there would be no comeback this time for Missouri. Chubb punched in the final score with a 9-yard run with 7:46 remaining, as cheers of ”U-G-A” filled an emptying Memorial Stadium.
”We’ve got to get it together, man,” defensive end Markus Golden said. ”It’s one game. You’ve got to move on.”
Georgia star running back Todd Gurley may not suit up for the Bulldogs again this season.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “a source familiar with the investigation” into Gurley allegedly being paid to sign memorabilia said that Gurley’s case is “significant” and there is “a possibility that Gurley may not be cleared to return to the field this season.”
From the AJC:
Unlike the case involving Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, the source says, there is evidence that wasn’t available in the Manziel case. Manziel got a half-game punishment last season to start the year. Other sources familiar with the investigation say a determination of punishment should be made by early next week.
Georgia indefinitely suspended Gurley, a junior with 773 rushing yards and eight touchdowns so far this season, for what it said was an ongoing investigation to “alleged violations of NCAA rules.” Multiple outlets reported that Gurley was paid to autograph memorabilia and SB Nation published a September 30 email from an autograph dealer who claimed he had video and photos of Gurley “doing a private autograph signing.”
Additionally, Deadspin had similar email communication with a person believed to be the same autograph dealer. The tipster told Deadspin that Gurley had “kind of screwed (him).”
“I spent a few grand on the signing and Gurley has since kind of screwed me by doing this with about 30 other guys. The stuff has lost a ton of its value. Just wanna recoup some of my money.”
If it is determined that Gurley committed an NCAA violation, penalties would be determined based upon the total compensation he received for his likeness. Sports Illustrated reported Thursday that Gurley was paid $400 for signing 80 items. By NCAA bylines, that ($400-$700 compensation) would result in a suspension of “20 percent” of his team’s seven remaining games.
Fox Sports reported Thursday that Gurley is expected to miss 2-3 games.
Gurley, a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, did not travel with Georgia for its Saturday afternoon game at Missouri. After news of the investigation and suspension broke, students assembled a “Free Gurley” vigil in front of Sanford Stadium.
Freshman Nick Chubb is expected to start in place of Gurley for the No. 13 Bulldogs.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley has been indefinitely suspended from competition due to an ongoing investigation into an alleged violation of NCAA rules, the school announced Thursday afternoon.
Todd Gurley celebrates with fans after Georgia beat Vanderbilt. (AP)
“I’m obviously very disappointed,” coach Mark Richt said. “The important thing for our team is to turn all our attention toward preparation for Missouri.”
The release did not specify the violation, but Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports said sources claimed it had to do with extra benefits for memorabilia sales.
Gurley, a Heisman frontrunner, has been the center of the Georgia offense. So far this season he’s rushed for 773 yards and eight touchdowns, which is sixth in the nation and first in the SEC.
If there was one player on the Bulldogs roster they absolutely could not lose, it was Gurley. He has amassed more than half of the Bulldogs rushing yards this season, which is saying something since Georgia has been a run-first squad all year. His rushing total almost equals the amount of passing yards the Bulldogs have had so far this season.
Gurley has made an otherwise mediocre offense look pretty stellar, and without him the Bulldogs will have to rely on two freshman Nick Chubb, who has 224 yards and two scores this season, to carry the load.
The loss of Gurley also will put more pressure on an already dicey quarterbacking situation. Starter Hutson Mason has thrown for 687 yards and seven touchdowns with three interceptions, but his consistency has been suspect. In fact, Richt has shuffled backup Brice Ramsey into the game more often, though he’s resisted calling the substitution a full-blown rotation. Georgia’s passing offense ranks 12th out of the 14 SEC teams.
There’s never a good time to have a top player suspended, but the Bulldogs have an important SEC matchup at Missouri this weekend. The Tigers are 1-0 in conference play with a win against South Carolina. Georgia already lost to South Carolina and a loss to Missouri would put its hopes of an SEC East division title in jeopardy.
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Todd Gurley is indefinitely ineligible while Georgia investigates whether he signed autographs and merchandise for money, a source confirmed to Yahoo Sports. Read the rest of this entry