ORLANDO, Fla. — Aaron Murray wasn’t playing much like an MVP at halftime of the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday.
“He told me after the game he thought I was going to come in and knock him upside the head,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
Murray threw two interceptions on Georgia’s first three drives, including an interception returned 24 yards for a touchdown by Nebraska linebacker Will Compton.
Bobo told Murray just to settle down and trust his protection.
He did, throwing three touchdown passes on the first four drives of the second half en route to his first bowl win.
He ended the afternoon standing on a podium on the field with Georgia president Michael Adams and athletic director Greg McGarity, hoisting the MVP trophy after a 45-31 victory over Nebraska on a day that saw Murray break a bushel of records.
Georgia fans that remained in Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium implored him to stay for one more year.
The redshirt junior from Tampa, Fla., who won a state title in the same stadium, was noncommittal. He’s considering entering the NFL Draft.
“The future, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Murray said in the postgame press conference. “I’m just enjoying the moment right now.”
Murray finished the day completing 18 of 33 passes for 427 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
“It definitely was a tough start,” Murray said. “We knew it was a full game ahead of us. … Definitely didn’t make all the plays that are out there, but when you put up 45 points, I think, as we had, against a team like Nebraska with a great defense, you’ve got to feel happy about that.”
Murray set Georgia bowl records for touchdown passes, passing yards and longest touchdown pass.
That came on an 87-yard scoring strike to Chris Conley.
“He had a couple of things go not exactly the way he wanted them to go, had a couple picks early and just hung in there, very resilient, and finished – I guess he’s MVP,” coach Mark Richt said. “Somebody thought he played good by the end of the game, so that was good. So I’m proud of him.”
Murray’s 427 passing yards tied a career high he had against Kentucky this season, and his five touchdown passes tied his career best.
Murray broke his own single-season touchdown record with 36 and moved past Eric Zeier (3,525 in 1993) for passing yards in a season with 3,893.
It all came against the nation’s No. 1 passing defense and a unit that entered the game second in the nation in passing defense.
“They do such a great job of matching route concepts we thought if we could throw some wrinkles off some stuff that we did we could get some guys open,” Bobo said. “Nothing against who they played, but they haven’t played a team who was balanced run and pass.”
Nebraska was burned for 539 rushing yards against Wisconsin in a 70-31 rout in the Big Ten title game, but Murray and company torched the Cornhuskers for 427 yards through the air and 589 yards total.
Murray directed a Georgia offense that converted 12 of 17 third downs.
“He kept playing the game and let it come to him,” Bobo said.
Bobo said he will meet with Murray today to discuss his decision about whether to turn pro.
“We haven’t talked about it,” Bobo said. “We’ve talked that we’re going to focus on Nebraska and we’re going to talk (today). That’s been the real extent of it because his real focus to was to win this bowl game and not lose three bowl games in a row.”
Murray said the bowl game won’t have any bearing on his decision.
He said falling five yards short of the national title game in the 32-28 loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game will linger “in some of our minds, but the best thing to do is get back out there and play and get a victory. Today definitely eased the pain.”