Aaron Murray continued his hot play as the Georgia Bulldogs reasserted themselves into the BCS National Championship picture on Saturday afternoon with a 44-41 win over LSU. Trailing the Tigers by three points with just 4:14 remaining in the game, Murray found himself in a seemingly all too familiar situation: on the verge of another heartbreaking loss.
Fortunately for the Bulldog faithful at Sanford Stadium, Murray proved clutch late in the game as the senior leader led the Bulldogs to their second win against a Top 10 opponent in just four weeks. This win, however, was extra sweet for Murray given a little added adversity and a prior reputation for coming up short when things matter most.
Just a few short weeks ago even mentioning a Heisman campaign seemed laughable relative to Murray's experience. Historically plagued by shortcomings in big games, Murray seemed destined for a disappointing senior season. After opening his career with a 0-6 against Top 25 opposition, Murray entered this season with a 4-9 career mark in such games.
A season opening loss at Clemson was deemed more of the same for Murray, and more importantly for head coach Mark Richt whose failures in games against top-tier competition of long been bemoaned by Georgia fans.
But over the past few weeks, the team's performance has caught up with the individual output of Murray. Improved offensive line play and continued strong running by Gurley and Keith Marshall (the duo combined for 169 yards on Saturday) have allowed Murray to shine.
Murray's clutch play is undoubtedly the byproduct of four years of dedication to preparation both on and off the field, but the improvement is one that many feared would not happen.
Now, for the first time in years, Georgia is winning games against top teams, and Aaron Murray has been the key. And that welcomed change is the reason pundits are now throwing around Heisman mentions.
Murray's spotlight was broadened by an unfortunate ankle injury sustained by Todd Gurley early in the second quarter. This game, unlike the recent win against South Carolina, lies squarely on Murray's shoulders.
Murray proved to be the difference maker for the Bulldogs, hitting on 20 of 34 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns. Yet again, the keys to his success were protection by a seasoned offensive line and even dispersion of passes down field.
In three games against ranked opponents this season Murray has connected on 57 of 86 passes for 930 yards, eight touchdowns and just two interception.
With a respite in the schedule heading into an early November showdown with Florida, one has to expect continued success for the Bulldogs. Individually speaking, a Heisman campaign may now be building for Murray.