COLUMBIA, MO - Georgia officials didn’t talk further about Todd Gurley’s future, but the Bulldogs did plenty of talking on the field.

No. 13 Georgia thrashed No. 23 Missouri 34-0 on Saturday - grabbing control of the SEC East in the process for the time being - while shutting out a ranked foe on the road for the first time in 32 years. It was the first time the Tigers had been shutout since 2002.

“You don’t expect that (outcome) coming in here,” coach Mark Richt said after the game.

Georgia’s offense may have been missing its best player, but the defense stepped up to have the best performance it has had in some time. The Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1) forced five turnovers - four of which were Maty Mauck interceptions - and only allowed the Tigers to gain 147 total yards of offense.

It was a slaughter, Missouri managed only ten first downs the entire game.

“We heard everyone saying that we couldn’t do it without Todd,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “That really hit the defense’s heart. That’s like saying the defense can’t do anything. Like we suck, and that Todd was the whole team. That all inspired us to go out there, and win it for him.”

The Bulldogs learned that their top player was suspended just before practice on Thursday. But the news sent shockwaves through the college football world.

“We wanted them to get used to practicing and playing without Todd. I thought they handled it well,” Richt said. “I know all of the guys love Todd. I think everyone knows that the season goes on, and life goes on.”

When asked when or if Gurley would return, Richt didn’t go into detail.

“I am not going to make any predictions,” he said.

But Gurley is keeping in touch with the program. Richt said that he exchanged texts with the running back on Friday night. Nick Chubb, who started in place of Gurley, also got encouraging words from the suspended player.

It was Chubb who played the part of Gurley during the game. The freshman from northwest Georgia ran for 143 yards on 38 carries - the most carries of any Georgia running back this season. Chubb took the toted the rock as many times at the entire team vs. South Carolina and had one more run than Georgia attempted during last week’s lopsided win over Vanderbilt.

“In high school I was getting about 30 a game,” Chubb said. “It’s what I’ve been doing for four or five years. They said 45 at the end of the week. I thought they were joking around. I was ready.”

He sure was. Georgia fans in the southwest corner of Faurot Field chanted Chubb’s name at the end end of the game. Meanwhile, a group of Georgia fans held up a giant banner that read: “Free Gurley”.

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