As trite as it may sound at this point, Aaron Murray will have yet another chance to add to his already impressive legacy this Saturday against the Florida Gators. While the Bulldogs’ season has been derailed by injuries, Murray has continued his assault on SEC passing records. In the process, he has managed to shake his reputation for an inability to win big games thanks to victories over South Carolina and LSU.
For Georgia fans, the most meaningful box Murray could check off on his resume is a third consecutive win over the despised Gators. And from a historical perspective, three-straight wins in The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party would be an accomplishment of some magnitude, seeing as no Georgia quarterback in the last 30 years has been able to achieve such success within the context of the rivalry.
In many regards, such a feat is furthered in uniqueness given the preexisting circumstances that surrounded the annual battle in Jacksonville when Murray first came under center for the Bulldogs.
Murray was born on November 10th, 1990—coincidentally the same day that that the Florida Gators began an era of dominance over the Georgia Bulldogs. The Gators’ 38-7 victory that day was the first of seven consecutive Florida wins, and balance was not soon restored. By the time Murray played in his first game against Florida, the Gators had won 17 of 20 matchups.
Murray’s first start in Jacksonville did little to reverse the trend. A 34-31 overtime loss was as unsettling as Murray’s four turnovers in the game. The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 4-5 on the season, but the hardest pill for Dawg fans to swallow was yet another loss to the Gators.
Now, just three years later, Aaron Murray is on the verge of making history in the most unexpected of ways. His statistical output, although impressive, could have been predicted given his high level of production as a freshman. It was generally assumed that Murray would win some big ball games over the course of his career. No one, however, anticipated that he could win three games against the Gators.
Ironically, Murray’s performance in the big rivalry has been atypical of the majority of his career. Despite some recent success, the senior has previously been known for losing against elite competition while putting up unparalleled passing statistics.
Against Florida, he’s won his last two matchups with the Gators but in doing so has failed to impress statistically. In the last two games, Murray has completed under 47 percent of his passes while throwing for a combined 319 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.
|Completion Percentage||Yards Per Game||Touchdowns||Interceptions|
|Career Against Florida||47.4%||210.7||6||7|
|Rest of Career||62.7%||237.4||106||31|
But the only statistic that matters for the Bulldogs in this rivalry is wins, and for the first time since Buck Belue was under center in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a quarterback wearing red and black has an opportunity to knock off the Gators for a third straight year.
Not only does Murray have a chance to help the Bulldogs further reverse their fortunes within the rivalry, but by doing so he can leave a lasting impact that could allow the Dawgs to capitalize in the short term. Murray is a product of Tampa, Florida and another win in his home state could have positive implications for the Bulldogs on the recruiting front.
Despite two straight wins over the Gators, Georgia has trailed Florida in each of the last two recruiting class rankings (at least according to Rivals.com). A third consecutive win could reverse some of those fortunes as the two SEC East squads compete for a number of the same athletes.
During his freshman season, Murray told Seth Emerson of the Ledger-Enquirer, that his college decision did come down to Georgia and Florida. He summed up his decision saying, "Both schools are great schools, great teams and great coaches - a lot of tradition at both places. But in the end, it was just a gut feeling. My heart just felt like Georgia was the right place for me."
Another Georgia win may lead to a lot more gut-feelings leading to the Bulldogs. In the eyes of 18-year-old recruits, a third straight win by Georgia all but erases 20 years of Florida dominance. In that light, another Murray win over the Gators could serve Georgia well for years to come.