UGA: Gurley suffers season-ending ACL tear

Todd Gurley’s season – and presumably his college football career – ended Saturday night.

The Georgia tailback suffered a torn ACL in his left knee late in the Bulldogs’ win over Auburn, UGA said Sunday.

The news was expected. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported online late Saturday night that people familiar with the situation said Gurley had suffered a season-ending injury.

The diagnosis of a torn ACL was confirmed by MRI results Sunday, according to the school. A date for surgery has not yet been scheduled.

The non-contact injury came with 5:21 remaining in Gurley’s first game back after serving a four-game suspension for selling his autograph to memorabilia dealers in violation of NCAA rules.

Gurley’s final play of the season was a six-yard run over left tackle to the Auburn 11-yard line with the Bulldogs leading 27-7. The injury appeared to occur as he planted his left leg to cut back. He grabbed for his knee as he went to the ground. TV cameras captured his wince.

Gurley is eligible for next year’s NFL draft. Even before the suspension and the injury, it was considered a foregone conclusion that he would skip his final season of college eligibility to turn pro. That has not changed.

Gurley became the second leading rusher in Georgia history Saturday night, when his 138 yards against Auburn lifted his career total to 3,285. That surpassed Garrison Hearst (3,232 from 1990-92) on Georgia’s career list and left Gurley behind only Herschel Walker (5,259 in 1980-82).

Gurley also ranks No. 2 in the UGA history behind Walker in career touchdowns with 44 (36 rushing, six receiving and two on kickoff returns). Saturday’s game was Gurley’s 18th with at least 100 yards rushing, the second most in UGA history behind Walker.

The combination of the suspension and the injury means Gurley will play in only half of Georgia’s 12 regular-season games this year, as well as missing postseason play. He missed three games last season because of injuries.

He was considered the frontrunner for this year’s Heisman Trophy before the suspension.

Freshman Nick Chubb officially takes over as Georgia’s No. 1 tailback. He averaged 168 yards rushing per game during Gurley’s suspension. Against Auburn, Chubb posted even better numbers than Gurley. Chubb had 144 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries Saturday night, surpassing 1,000 yards rushing for the season (currently 1,039). He became the 12th player in UGA history to rush for more than 1,000 in a season.

Chubb was asked if his performance should provide the team comfort that its running game is in good shape even without Gurley.

“I’d rather have Todd,” Chubb said. “He’s a game-changer. He’s a great player. He can break one at any moment.”