By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - If Kerryon Johnson gets to go to New York next week as a Heisman trophy finalist, expect him to bring back Big Apple souvenirs for Auburn's offensive linemen.
"When they do their job, my job becomes a lot easier," said Johnson, who has produced eight 100-yard rushing games this season. "I get all of the news and the flash and the pictures, but those guys do an excellent job."
Johnson rushed for 167 yards and scored a receiving touchdown in Auburn's 40-17 win over Georgia on Nov. 11, the second of four consecutive 100-yard games.
"My success is mainly due to the O-line," said Johnson of the first meeting between the Tigers and Bulldogs. "Sometimes I would have to make a run out of little, but for the most part, I think our O-line played one of their best games.
"If they keep that up again, it should be a fun day on the ground. We put a lot of pressure on them week after week. People know we're going to run the ball, which means they put a lot of guys in the box, and they have to handle it. And they've done that, so kudos to them."
Now comes the rematch Saturday at 3 p.m. in Atlanta, with even higher stakes. A win would give Auburn the SEC Championship and its first spot in the College Football Playoff.
"This game is huge for me," Johnson said. "These are the games you go to big-time schools for. Anybody can play in a regular season game, but you set those goals to go to the championship games and playoff games."
Knocking off two No. 1 teams in November positioned Auburn to achieve its goal of winning the conference.
"We didn't set that goal for nothing," Johnson said. "Our goal is to go out there and win. We realize we have a talented team in front of us again. We've gone up against solid teams all year. We realize that we've been battle tested, and we realize that things happen and you've got to respond to adversity.
"Our goal has been to win it, and we have the chance now. It was all talk before, but now we've got to go out there and prove it."
Johnson has accounted for 20 touchdowns this season, 17 rushing, two receiving and one TD pass in Auburn's 26-14 Iron Bowl win. Johnson displayed his toughness, rushing 30 times against Alabama.
"I'm sore after every game, and so is everybody else. It's nothing more different than any other week," he said. "I'm a running back. Guys are going to get banged up. It's just nothing more, nothing less."
A model of reliability, Johnson has rushed for 1,276 yards on 250 carries, without a single fumble. It's one more reason fans chanted "Kerryon" when Johnson was slow to get up after his final Iron Bowl rushing attempt.
"That brought tears to my eyes," said Johnson, who ranks No. 12 in Auburn history with 2,379 career rushing yards. "That was obviously a huge game for us. That just shows that I've done right by myself, I've done right by this university since I've been here."
This Auburn Man does it all!
8: 100-yard games this season.
4: straight 100-yard games.
17: rushing TDs in 2017.
19: TDs (rush/rec). @AyeyoKEJO even added a TD pass to help @AuburnFootball beat No. 1 for the second time in three weeks. #Kerryon4Heisman #WarEagle pic.twitter.com/bnuL9HsdSE
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer