Missouri vs. Georgia: Aaron Murray Will Become True Heisman Candidate with Win

Tyler Brooke@TylerDBrookeSenior Analyst IIOctober 12, 2013

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 7: Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs warms up during the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

For as much criticism as Aaron Murray has received during his college career, he is emerging as a real Heisman candidate in 2013, and he will cement himself as a contender for the award with a win over the Missouri Tigers.

The No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs have had a terrific season, turning things around since the 38-35 loss to Clemson.  They've won four straight games, including two wins against ranked opponents in South Carolina and LSU.

Murray has always been criticized for not beating top-tier opponents, but that image is quickly fading away in 2013.  He's 2-1 against top-10 opponents this year. As you can see from the game logs, he's played incredibly well in all three of these games.

The numbers for Murray this year are as good as just about anyone's, but he's played much tougher opponents than most.  He's completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 1,534 yards along with 17 total touchdowns and just three interceptions.  His passer rating of 176.9 is the seventh-best in the country, ahead of even Marcus Mariota.

Despite all of the injuries to this team, Murray is continuing to will the Bulldogs to win.  In the game against Tennessee, the Bulldogs lost Keith Marshall, Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett to knee injuries that will likely cost them each the season or at least, the majority of it.

Playing against No. 25 Missouri will give Murray yet another chance to beat a ranked opponent this year, adding to his impressive resume.

The Tigers don't have the most impressive defense.  Despite playing against some weaker opponents, Missouri is still allowing 291.8 passing yards and 22.4 points a game.

CLEMSON, SC - AUGUST 31: Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs passes during warm ups prior to the game against the Clemson Tigers at Memorial Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Now, they're going to have to travel into Athens and play at Sanford Stadium, which will be a completely different experience.

Assuming that Murray has another big day against an unproven defense, he will certainly put himself right into the middle of the Heisman conversation.  When you look at the rest of the top candidates and compare them to Murray, you can see that he matches up well against them.

Teddy Bridgewater was the preseason favorite to win the award, and while he's having a good year, his stock took a hit this week against Rutgers.  He threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had an interception and a fumble as the Louisville Cardinals squeaked out a win.  

Based on Louisville's schedule, Bridgewater had to play perfect football in nearly every game to be in contention, but this game hurt his chances quite a bit.

Last year's Heisman winner Johnny Manziel is certainly in the running, but he's hurt himself with all of the controversy surrounding him, and with the loss to Alabama.  

The two guys that likely have the edge on Murray right now are Jameis Winston and Mariota.  Winston is second in the nation with a 213.9 passer rating, while Mariota has 21 total touchdowns on the year.

Still, there are few candidates at the moment that have the resume Murray has. If he pulls out another big win on Saturday, you will hear his name mentioned often in the race for the rest of the year.