University of Georgia tailback, Knowshon Moreno, would certainly have been a hit at the Bird’s Nest.
He sure looked like an Olympic hurdler in Georgia’s 56-17 rout of Central Michigan on Saturday between the hedges.
Georgia’s dynamic sophomore, who some are already comparing to 1982 Heisman winner Herschel Walker, rushed for a total of 168 yards and tied his career-best with three touchdowns as No. 2 Georgia responded to a ratings snub by humiliating the Chippewas.
The play everyone was talking about did not result in a touchdown, but it did get Moreno a mention along with the top performers during Saturday’s college football action.
Late in the third quarter, Moreno got loose in the Chippewas' secondary. Vince Agnew came in low, looking to take him down at the knees, but the Georgia back simply leaped over the would-be tackler and kept on going for a 29-yard gain.
"That was crazy," teammate Asher Allen said. "He's done it in practice before. I think he's been keeping that in his back pocket."
Moreno sat out his first season at Georgia, a decision coach Mark Richt clearly regrets.
"He's a special kid," Richt said. "We saw him do it in practice, and I redshirted him anyway. That wasn't real smart on my part. I knew he was good, but I didn't know he was that good."
There were several other standouts wearing red on Saturday as well.
Matthew Stafford completed 18-of-28 for 213 yards, hooking up with Mohamed Massaquoi on a pair of touchdown passes. Massive defensive end Demarcus Dobbs rumbled for an improbable 78-yard score after picking off a deflected pass.
The Bulldogs displayed the type of offensive balance—passing for 289 yards and rushing for 263 yards—that should serve them well in much tougher games to come. Georgia now faces back-to-back road games at South Carolina and at Arizona State, respectively, and then faces a full plate of formidable SEC opponents the rest of the way.
"You're always looking for the ability to do things equally well," Richt said. "The defense can take one thing away from you, but if you can do both you've got a chance."
Players insisted that they were not trying to send a message; however, it sure looked that way. Georgia began the season as the top ranked team in the land, but fell to No. 2 following a 24-point win over Georgia Southern in a game that was really not that close.
Voters seemed more impressed over Southern California’s 52-7 rout at Virginia, resulting in USC moving ahead of Georgia in both major polls.
Unfazed by the snub, Georgia raced to a 28-0 lead over the Chippewas just before halftime, and stymied any hopes of a comeback with two big scoring plays early in the third quarter.
"The polls were probably the last thing on guys minds," safety C.J. Byrd said. "We just wanted to go out and get a win, no matter how we got it."
After Central Michigan (1-1) closed to 28-14 on Dan LeFevour's second TD pass, Moreno put it away. The sophomore took the pitch on a sweep around right end, burst upfield when he spotted a hole, stiff-armed defensive back Eric Fraser, and crashed off the pylon for a 52-yard score.
Moreno wasn't done, either. He capped a 99-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown, the last of his 18 carries and equaling his three-score performances against Florida and Troy during a brilliant redshirt freshman season. He's off and running again with the seventh 100-yard game of his career.
As for the leap over Agnew, he simply shrugged his shoulders.
"All that stuff is really instinct," Moreno said. "Instinct takes over and you're just trying to make a play."
The Dawgs are now hoping for an upset as No. 5 Ohio State travels to Los Angeles to square-off against top ranked USC in the Coliseum. A USC loss would most certainly move Georgia back to No. 1. But don’t take anything for granted. Georgia still must take down the Spurrier-led Gamecocks, a team that cost the Bulldogs a shot at the national title in 2007 with a stunning defeat at Sanford Stadium.
Expect the Dawgs to be looking for a little something called revenge.
-Chris Barfield (with a special thank you to The Associated Press, including GeorgiaDogs.com, ESPN.com, and SI.com)