AUBURN, Ala. Running back Michael Dyer sat winded along the Auburn sideline after carrying the ball four consecutive times for 28 yards on a fourth-quarter drive.
By the time he caught his breath, he had caught Bo Jackson, too.
As it was announced the Dyer had broken Jacksons school record for rushing yards in a freshman season, the former professional football and baseball star hugged Dyer and lifted his arm up to the crowd, which responded with roaring applause.
To me, thats one of the memories Im always going to have when I think about Auburn when I leave here, Dyer said.
Dyer finished with 60 yards on 13 carries in Auburns 49-31 victory. It gives him 859 rushing yards this season, putting him just ahead Jacksons previous record of 829 yards set in 1982.
Between Dyers record-breaking day and running back Onterio McCalebb, who had 71 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries, the Auburn running game had all the tools it needed to back up quarterback Cam Newton when Georgias defensive front caught the quarterback off guard or closed up his running lanes.
Newton was still the star of the Auburn ground game. He carried the ball 30 times more than every other rusher combined and ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
But those options were key Saturday as Auburn rushed for 315 yards and five scores against a Georgia defense limiting opponents to 106 yards a game before Saturday. Really, Cam Newton does a great job of reading, taking holes and just going out, Dyer said. Onterio uses his speed to get to the outside, and once he does, its over with. Im the guy that likes to run between the tackles.
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said he was confident the Tigers running game could set the pace in the second half and stuck with it almost exclusively. Auburns first pass after halftime came nearly three minutes into the fourth quarter, and the Tigers ran for 186 of their 316 yards through the third and fourth quarters.
I dont know if that happened exactly the way we wanted it to, but we had some explosive plays in there where (Georgia) had to run down the field, get set and reset, Chizik said. So we did some things that we thought, with clock management and other things, would help us toward the end of the game.
Auburn offensive lineman Mike Berry said it worked to near perfection. Georgias defense began to wear down and the Tigers continued building their lead, capping the scoring on a 1-yard Newton touchdown in which the quarterback leaped over the line to cross into the end zone.
Once we get a first down, we kind of speed up the pace, Berry said. Its one of those things where the D-tackles start to get tired and we start getting more movement on the D-tackles and getting up to the linebackers. That was one of the things that came into effect in the second half.