That dismal record against ranked teams, it never meant anything to Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, and he said it certainly didn’t worry him heading into Saturday’s game against No. 6 South Carolina.
Before, that may have sounded a little bit like denial. Saturday night it sounded like affirmation for the senior as he did two things his detractors so often said he couldn’t do. He beat South Carolina for the first time in four tries and knocked off a top-15 team for only the second time in his career.
“I think he kind of put the nail in the coffin of that whole persona that he’s not a big-game quarterback, that he doesn’t thrive under pressure, that he gets flustered,” Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch said. “He was damn near perfect today.”
Murray not only was on the winning side of the game, he was the architect of the team’s success. Last year, when the Georgia defeated then-No. 3 Florida 17-9, he needed some bailing out by the defense after passing for 150 yards and a touchdown to go with three interceptions.
Saturday’s game belonged to Murray as he was 17-for-23 passing for 309 yards and four touchdowns, all without an interception.
Murray and his teammates largely deflected criticism for their previous stumbles against South Carolina and others to an all-for-one, one-for-all attitude, but there was no doubt this was a statement win for the quarterback, teammates said.
“I think it speaks volumes (about Murray),” receiver Chris Conley said. “Aaron’s a hard worker. He’s a true signal caller. Everyone in that huddle believes in him and lets him lead. He went out there and he led this team to victory today.”
The game meant about as much to the current program, as well. After several years of disappointing starts, the Bulldogs are 1-0 in Southeastern Conference play and notched a win in a rivalry that Conley said had cast a shadow over the team’s other accomplishments. The team’s seniors, like Murray, made sure everyone understood what Saturday’s game meant, said Conley, a junior.
“I think there was a sense that we had lost respect, not only from some teams in this league but from South Carolina,” Conley said. “They wanted to go out and regain that respect. We wanted to go out and show who Georgia was.”
Murray downplayed his own role in the victory, but as the face of a team as well as its frustrations, he can crack a smile knowing he won’t be accused of playing scared – not of Jadeveon Clowney and not of records. This one was was nothing more than a good time.
“It was a lot of fun,” Murray said. “It was definitely up there with the most fun games.”