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.”
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