There is suffocating pressure on Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, as both teams will battle it out Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC. Clemson and Georgia are two teams many believe can compete for a national championship, and the victor will take a giant step forward in accomplishing that goal.
Murray and Boyd could both use the victory, but it is the Georgia quarterback who is desperate for a win of this magnitude. Murray has been absolutely brutal against ranked opponents in his career. Since taking over the starting duties in 2010, Georgia is a combined 4-10 against ranked competition.
After last year's 32-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia head coach Mark Richt was asked about his team's poor performance in big games. He didn't take kindly to the question, but it was an indication of how most view the Georgia signal-caller.
He can't win the big game.
Boyd is another who has struggled in marquee matchups, as Clemson lost two of three games against ranked teams last season. In 2011, the team lost four of its final six games, including a 70-33 beatdown against West Virginia in the BCS Orange Bowl. However, Clemson is 5-4 since 2011 against ranked competition since Boyd became a starter, which isn't the best in the world but is certainly better than what Murray has showed.
Clemson is also coming off one of the most impressive victories in school history, which was a 25-24 win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Boyd played lights out, completing 72 percent of his passes and throwing for 346 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 22 yards and a score.
Georgia's last performance wasn't as memorable. In fact, it was one of the worst losses in program history. Coming up yards short to Nick Saban's squad has scarred Georgia fans for life. The Bulldogs were about 15 feet away from winning an SEC title and having a shot at their first national championship since 1980.
Of course, the loss to Alabama shouldn't be blamed entirely on Murray, but he's the quarterback. That's the same position that gets most of the credit when a team wins, so he's mostly blamed when the team loses. Like it or not, that's the life of a quarterback.
Murray and Georgia teased their fanbase by getting so close to the ultimate prize and falling just short in the most heartbreaking fashion. With 10 returning starters on offense and a young defense that should mature quickly, another legit run for a national title isn't out of the question. Actually, many Georgia fans would tell you that it is expected.
Clemson is also a title contender but more so as a dark horse. The defense hasn't proven to be consistent over the years and the team seems to always lose at least one fluky game. Although the crystal football should be the ultimate goal, Tiger fans wouldn't be as heartbroken if that goal wasn't reached. Instead, an ACC title or BCS bowl trip would make a nice consolation prize.
Georgia on the other hand is a completely different story. The team needs to win now and has a roster talented enough to get the job done.
It's now or never for Georgia and its senior quarterback.