Georgia 44, LSU 41: Aaron Murray for Heisman?

Murray Earned Heisman Votes vs LSU

Aaron Murray led Georgia to a huge victory over #6 LSU. Should he be the leading Heisman contender?

Aaron Murray led Georgia to a huge victory over #6 LSU. Should he be the leading Heisman contender? (Credit Brunswickian)

Don’t tell Aaron Murray that he can’t win the big one now. Not only has he beaten two top-10 ranked SEC schools in the last 3 games, but he’s clearly been the best player on the field in both contests.

The latest feather in the fantastic college career of Aaron Murray is Saturday’s 44-41 victory over the #6 LSU Tigers (and former roommate Zach Mettenberger). Murray finished the game with 298 yards passing and 5 total touchdowns against what had previously been the #8 ranked total defense in the FBS.

It was a nail-biting affair throughout, as neither team led by more than a touchdown at any point. There were five ties and eight lead changes, including 3 in the fourth quarter. Even without standout RB Todd Gurley available late in the game, Murray found Justin Scott-Wesley for the decisive 25-yard TD pass with 1:47 to play.

To his credit, Zach Mettenberger was spectacular in defeat, passing for 372 yards and 3 TDs and leading the Tigers from behind to either a tie or the lead on five separate occasions. But in a game that Georgia frankly needed more to stay relevant in the BCS National Championship picture, the Bulldogs stood up and took it in the closing moments.

The game ends a brutal first 4 games for the University of Georgia and head coach Mark Richt, which was altogether the toughest stretch in the nation. Exiting with a 3-1 record and a top-10 national ranking, and 1st place in the SEC East, the question that needs to be asked is this: should Aaron Murray be the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy?

Georgia Bulldogs 3-1 in brutal first month; Murray shines

All the Georgia Bulldogs did in their first 4 games was play three top-10 schools: at then #8 Clemson, #6 South Carolina, and now #6 LSU. In between, they stomped on North Texas in a rain-soaked affair. Not only did the Bulldogs schedule three top-10 FBS schools in their first 4 games (2 of whom play in the SEC), they didn’t do the predictable and break those games up with an FCS opponent.

Over these four difficult games, Murray shone. His stats through four games read as follows:

79 comp. 116 att., 68.1% comp., 1,338 yards passing, 11 pass TD, 3 rush TD, 3 INT

Murray’s 79 completions have gone to 11 different receivers, most recently 9 different individuals against LSU. His passer efficiency rating prior to the LSU game was 201.8, 4th in the country and best in the SEC.

So why wasn’t Aaron Murray even listed in ESPN’s top 12 Heisman rankings heading into this weekend? Why are his accomplishments (and numbers) this season seen as lesser than Braxton Miller – who hasn’t even played all Ohio State’s games – or Sammy Watkins, who (currently) isn’t even one of the nation’s top 75 receivers?

Murray’s not flashy. He doesn’t run a 4.3 40-yard dash. All he’s done this year is put a mediocre Georgia defense on his back, get the “can’t win the big one” monkey off his back, post a top-10 passer efficiency rating, knock off 2 of 3 top-10 ranked opponents in September and throw his way to victory.

Sure, Marcus Mariota’s piled up a ton of stats – against Nicholls State and Virginia. Yes, Johnny Manziel‘s numbers are outstanding – but he had a chance to beat a top-10 team, and he failed. Murray’s put up all-world stats against the best competition any QB has faced so far this year.

And if that doesn’t make him the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, then what does?

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