On Saturday afternoon the University of Georgia beat the University of South Carolina by a 41-30 scoreline, in the process both maintaining the possibility that it could qualify for the BCS National Championship and putting on a show for its fans. Many people will surely point to quarterback Aaron Murray as the catalyst of this showman like performance, but in the process will be grossly overlooking Todd Gurley.
Gurley ran for 134 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries during the win, good for 4.5 yards per carry. This type of performance was crucial to the Georgia Bulldogs as they were without his running partner Keith Marshal who left the game with a knee injury.
More than just a great statistical night and clutch performance though was the fact that Gurley had a moment that will stick in the mind of college football viewers and analysts for the foreseeable future. This moment occurred in the second quarter when Gurley was handed the ball and attempted to break away from a South Carolina defender when his face mask was blatantly grabbed and his helmet came off. Instead of stopping Gurley attempted to keep on going and even had a South Carolina Gamecocks‘ defender or two attempting to chase him down. Of course in the end the ball came back because according to NCAA rules the ball is ruled down when the runner’s helmet comes off. South Carolina received a 15-yard face mask penalty, but the moment was truly bigger than just gaining a penalty. This play was truly a Heisman-Trophy-winning-esque moment, and should be the moment that catapults Gurley into the national Heisman Trophy conversation.
With 288 rushing yards combined in his first two games against the No. 4 ranked Clemson Tigers and No. 6 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks it is impossible to not put Gurley in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy. No other player has gone up against anywhere near the level of competition that Gurley has faced during his first two games, and yet he has averaged an absurd 6.86 yards per carry.
Some may argue that this level of play is not sustainable for Gurley throughout the entirety of the season, but I disagree wholeheartedly. Georgia only has two games left against ranked opponents, leaving a plethora of opponents that Gurley should have no problem tearing up to a greater degree than he has yet this season.
Where opposing fans like it Gurley is here to stay for the long haul, and by the end of the season will likely have a lot of people supporting him as the Heisman Trophy winner. If, and when, Gurley goes to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist, expect people to point back to this game and specifically the play when he got his helmet ripped off but just kept on going as one that stuck in their mind the whole season.