By Cy Brown
Some time between tailback Nick Chubb's first and fiftieth broken tackle against the best rushing defense in the nation it became obvious what many University of Georgia fans have suspected since he took over the starting job midway through the season: Nick Chubb is a better football player than Todd Gurley.
That statement would've been seen as blasphemy to many Georgia fans only months ago, but now you're unlikely to find any who will disagree. Georgia handily beat Louisville 37-14 at the inaugural Belk Bowl in Charlotte, where Chubb set the UGA single-game rushing record with 266 yards, all while steadily climbing UGA's single-season rushing list. With 1,547 yards, Chubb moved himself onto fourth all-time in UGA history, passing the likes of greats like Gurley, Knowshon Moreno, and Garrison Hearst. The three spots above him? One for each of Herschel Walker's legendary seasons in Athens.
Chubb's journey to the no. 1 spot on Georgia's depth chart has been strange. He came into the season a highly-touted recruit from Cedartown high School, where he rushed for more than 2,600 yards his senior season. But then he was a mere afterthought. Gurley's Heisman campaign was in full-effect. In his first game, against Clemson, Chubb took four carries for 70 yards, including a 40 yard touchdown which featured the usual Chubb twists, turns, and broken tackles.
At the time, it looked like he was going to have the most exciting run of his career in his first game. Now we know that's just his modus operandi. Georgia fans were excited to have their heir apparent. That run, and a handful of others early in the season, showed glimpses of what fans could expect once Gurley was gone.
You know what happened next. Gurley was caught selling memorabilia, suspended by the team so as to not play a potentially ineligible player, and, ultimately, suspended by the NCAA until the Auburn game, when he tore his ACL. Chubb assumed the starting role and did what he does best: destroy fools.
Chubb took hold of the starting role and never let go. He's rushed for at at least 100 yards in every game since his first start, against Missouri, in the sixth game of the season. From that point on, Chubb rushed for 1,323 yards. If he would've rushed at that pace the first five games of the season, he would've finished the season with close to 2,150, smashing Walker's single-season record.
I'm a Georgia grad and saw almost every second of football he played this season, and while I was amazed with the combo of speed and power Gurley ran with, I'm more amazed by the sheer force of Chubb's carries. He rarely goes down on first contact and his legs never stop moving, driving.
Chubb is now a definite 2015 Heisman candidate. Prior to the Belk Bowl, he was probably considered a dark horse, but that was before he humiliated the best run defense in the country, one that gave up less than 100 rushing yards per game heading into the matchup. He's moved himself to the favorite list, and he's done it the same way he moves on the field: with power and certainty and by running through any obstacle that finds itself in his path.
Cy Brown is a freelancer based in Athens, Georgia whose work has appeared on Sports on Earth, The Cauldron, and The Bitter Southerner. He lives with a dingo. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.