By Jeff Shearer
"He needs to be in the Heisman talk," Malzahn said, after Johnson rushed for 167 yards and added 66 receiving yards and a touchdown in Auburn's 40-17 win over Georgia. ""I don't know if there's a better running back out there."
For the sixth time this season, Johnson surpassed the 100-yard mark. For the season, he's gained 1,035 yards, the ninth straight year an Auburn running back has rushing for a thousand yards.
"That's big for me," Johnson said. "That's been a goal ever since I came to college. That's a milestone that I can knock off the list.
"It's a rivalry game, this is a big game for us," said Johnson, whose 2,138 career rushing yards ranks No. 16 in Auburn history. "In big games, your best players have to play well, and I feel like I did that, I feel like our O-line did that and we came out with a W."
Johnson's 55-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter gave him 17 TDs this season, 15 rushing and two receiving.
"I knew it was going to be open," Johnson said. "I started to come out and I saw both of the D-linemen run past, I was like, 'Oh, this is going to be open.' I got it and I was looking for help and Marquell [Harrell] and Prince Tega [Wanogho] were out there, and I knew they weren't going to run through them, so I just followed behind them and got in the end zone."
Johnson averaged 5.2 yards on 32 carries, more than tripling the combined output of Georgia's highly regarded running back tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who gained 49 yards on 20 carries.
The victory keeps Auburn in contention in the SEC West, with an Iron Bowl win in two weeks setting up a rematch with the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship.
"Our dream is still alive," Johnson said. "Week after week, we've got to go out and prove it and prove that we want that dream. It's one thing to say, it's another thing to go out there and prove it, and these past couple weeks we've done that. And the next couple weeks, we're going to have another two tests, and we've got to do it again."
And about that Heisman talk?
"I appreciate it from him, seeing as he's coached just a few guys in that conversation and guys who have won it," Johnson said. "Until it's in there, it's not in there. I just keep going out, I run, and if [my name] gets in there it's pretty cool.
"It's always been a dream of mine. Never really thought I'd get to that level, but it would be pretty awesome to see."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer