In just one short quarter, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray cemented his legacy. In three more and an overtime, he added to it.
Murray's 24-yard completion to Chris Conley on a critical 4th-and-4 midway through the second quarter wasn't flashy, but it gave Murray 109 passing yards at the time, breaking former Bulldog David Greene's SEC record of 11,528 career passing yards. That completion kept the drive alive and led to a touchdown that put the Bulldogs up 17-3.
You'd think that'd be enough, but Murray wasn't done.
After Georgia's defense let the Vols claw back into it and take a 31-24 lead with 1:54 to play, Murray led his Bulldogs on an epic 10-play, 75-yard drive in 1:49, hitting Rantavious Wooten for a two-yard touchdown with five seconds to play to send the game into overtime.
It's the second time in as many weeks Murray has led his team the length of the field for a critical touchdown drive late in the game. He led his team down the field in six plays and hit Justin Scott-Wesley for a 25-yard touchdown with 1:47 to play last week in the 44-41 win over LSU.
"That's why he came back," head coach Mark Richt said on the CBS broadcast after the game. "I'm so proud of him. He's a pretty special player."
He is a big-game quarterback. Now, he's the most prolific passer in SEC history.
Despite Murray being on the brink of history heading into the season, the jury was still out on him. The numbers are there, but he entered the 2013 campaign with a miserable 3-11 record against Top 10 teams. That record moved to 3-12 with the opening-night loss to Clemson despite Murray's 323 passing yards.
All he's done since then is knock off then-No. 6 South Carolina and then-No. 6 LSU, throwing eight touchdowns in those two contests.
With the Top 10 monkey off his back and his team back in the BCS national championship hunt, it's time to recognize Murray for what he is—one of the best quarterbacks in SEC history.
What's not to like?
In addition to becoming the SEC's most prolific passer, Murray has led Georgia from a sub-.500 record his freshman season to back-to-back division titles, the brink of an SEC championship and BCS title game appearance, and a 12-5 record against Georgia's biggest rivals—Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia Tech and South Carolina.
|South Carolina - 2010||L 17-6||192||0||0|
|Tennessee - 2010||W 41-14||266||2||0|
|Florida - 2010||L 34-31 (OT)||313||3||3|
|Auburn - 2010||L 49-31||273||3||0|
|Georgia Tech - 2010||W 42-34||271||3||0|
|South Carolina - 2011||L 45-42||248||4||1|
|Tennessee - 2011||W 20-12||227||0||0|
|Florida - 2011||W 24-20||169||2||1|
|Auburn - 2011||W 45-7||224||4||0|
|Georgia Tech - 2011||W 31-17||252||4||1|
|Tennessee - 2012||W 51-44||286||2||1|
|South Carolina - 2012||L 35-7||109||0||1|
|Florida - 2012||W 17-9||150||1||3|
|Auburn - 2012||W 38-0||208||3||0|
|Georgia Tech - 2012||W 42-10||215||2||0|
|South Carolina - 2013||W 41-30||309||4||0|
|Tennessee - 2013||W 34-31 (OT)||196||3||0|
He has a tremendous rapport with his wide receivers, can put those deep outs on the money from across the field and has mastered the art of the back-shoulder fade. Does that translate to the next level? It should, but it shouldn't matter to his legacy.
Is Aaron Murray a big-game QB?
Being the unquestioned leaders of the team, quarterbacks shoulder too much criticism and receive too much praise at times. But for Murray, praise is in order.
No, he hasn't hoisted the crystal football, nor has he left the Georgia Dome in early December with an SEC title.
At least not yet.
Both of those goals are still there in front of him this season, and what a way it'd be to wrap up a career. If he doesn't reach either, it shouldn't take away from his legacy.
Aaron Murray will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in SEC history.
The numbers don't lie.