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September 7, 2013
In his mind, the battle had been taking place before it began. Mike Davis versus Todd Gurley. Unknown quantity versus college football superstar. Sophomore versus sophomore. Four-star recruit versus four-star recruit.
Me versus you.
In the battle between the hedges in Athens Saturday night with the college football world watching, it was the underdog Davis who bested the heavyweight champ Gurley - Davis rushing for 149 yards to Gurley's 132 - but it was Gurley's No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs who won the war, taking a bitter 41-30 victory over No. 6 South Carolina.
Sitting behind a table of microphones in the sweltering broom closet Georgia calls a visiting media room under the east end zone, Davis sat sullen and sunken, his right knee wrapped in an enormous bag of ice and wearing an expressionless look on his face as he took questions from the media.
Normally one of the team's most outgoing - and outspoken - players, Davis looked nothing like a player who just had his best game on the biggest stage because Davis, like his team, couldn't shake the sting from a loss he'd done everything in his power to prevent.
"It's very frustrating," Davis said even though he had more yards than Gurley on basically half the carries (16 to Gurley's 30). "It's a team effort, and we didn't get the 'W', so it wasn't enough."
Davis admitted the duel between he and Gurley was something he used for motivation.
"I would say I did (use it),"Davis said. "People talk more about Gurley and Keith Marshall, so me and Brandon wanted to come out and make a statement. But it's a team effort.
"We'll have to use this going into the Vanderbilt game. We can't take it back; a loss is a loss. Hopefully we can move forward."
With back-to-back games with 75-yard runs, Davis has proven he's a home-run threat and a back who
has only begun to make the nation serve notice.
"I hope I've made a statement," Davis said. "I think most people look at me as a back that only gets five or ten yards and no big plays, and I want to be that running back who makes exciting plays."
Only making history, in fact, could cheer Davis up. When Davis was told he'd been the first back in school history to have 75-yard runs in back-to-back games, he smiled for the first time.
"To make history means a lot," he said. "That's what I came to South Carolina wanting to do. That's something I didn't know. I appreciate you telling me."
With 10 more regular season games to go and back-to-back 100 yard games already under his belt (and an impressive 132 yards-per-game and 9.42 yards-per-carry average, he's well on his way to a history-making career - even if he has to lose a war or two along the way.
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