When the Atlanta Falcons take on the Detroit Lions this Sunday, it will be the first meeting between two of the top running backs to represent the Georgia Bulldogs in the last decade.
Todd Gurley, who emerged as a Heisman candidate during his three-year career at Georgia from 2012-14, will square off against D'Andre Swift, one of the most dynamic running backs in the SEC from 2017-19. Gurley finished his career at Georgia with 3,900 yards from scrimmage and 42 total touchdowns, while Swift, a second-round pick in this year's NFL Draft, ended his time with the Bulldogs totaling 3,551 yards and 25 touchdowns.
In his first season with the Falcons, Gurley is back in the state in which he became a household name nationwide. He already has one 100-yard rushing game this season, and he's determined to outplay his fellow Bulldog on Sunday.
"It's going to be good," Gurley said of Sunday's matchup. "I can't let the young buck outdo me. Nah, I'm excited, he had a great game last week. I'm pretty sure he's going to be rookie of the week, along with my boy A.J. Terrell on the defensive side. But he had a great game. I always love to see the young guys eating. Not only a young guy, but a guy from Georgia."
Swift enjoyed the first big game of his NFL career during the Lions' 34-16 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6. He carried the ball 14 times for a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns. This season, the rookie has gained 289 yards from scrimmage and scored four touchdowns.
As the Falcons' lead back the season, Gurley, one of the top running backs in the league over the past five years, had his best performance of the year in Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers. He carried the ball 14 times for 121 yards and a touchdown in that game, but he's looking to bounce back after picking up just 47 yards on 20 carries in Atlanta's Week 6 win against Minnesota.
"In game, I think it's just his physicality," Falcons quarterback said of what he's seen from Gurley. "You've seen in some of these third-down runs that we've had his ability to keep his pads low, keep the chains moving and get extra yards extra contact has been impressive. I think he's done a nice job for us, and I think he's getting more comfortable in our scheme and how we're using him, and I think his production is only going to continue to go up."
Gurley currently ranks eighth in the league with 422 yards on 99 carries this season. His five rushing touchdowns thus far is tied for the fourth-most in the NFL through six weeks. With an average of 4.3 yards per carry, Gurley has shown he can be relied upon at any point in the game to pick up good yardage, but he has a propensity to rip off big plays when really in the zone as he was against Carolina.
In that Panthers game, Gurley was also motivated by a friend of his at the running back position, former South Carolina running back Mike Davis, who had taken over for the injured Christian McCaffrey. That proved to be the best game of the season for the Falcons' starting running back.
Now, with some added motivation going up against a former Bulldog, Gurley is looking to once again do some damage.
Todd Gurley became the fourth-fastest player to reach 75 career touchdowns on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.