NEEDING A BIG WIN
Aaron Murray is Georgia's only quarterback so far in the Mark Richt era to start at least one full season and fail to defeat a top-10 team in his career:
David Greene (2001-04)
defeated No. 6 Tennessee 26-24 in '01
defeated No. 10 Tennessee 18-13 in '02
D.J. Shockley (2005)
defeated No. 7 Tennessee 27-14
defeated No. 3 LSU in SEC title game 34-14
Matthew Stafford (2006-08)
defeated No. 5 Auburn 37-15 in '06
defeated No. 9 Florida 42-30 in '07
defeated No. 10 Hawaii in Sugar Bowl 41-10
Joe Cox (2009)
defeated No. 7 Georgia Tech 30-24
ATHENS, Ga. — Aaron Murray has thrown at least two touchdown passes in every game this season, and two more aerial scores Saturday night at No. 6 South Carolina would place him on top of every other quarterback in Georgia history.
"I had no idea," Murray said this week. "I'm just worried about winning this game. Those records will come whenever."
Murray has 71 career touchdown passes, one shy of David Greene's 72 compiled from 2001 to '04, but another number Murray hasn't reached has become a bigger topic entering the showdown at Williams-Brice Stadium. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound redshirt junior from Tampa has led the No. 5 Bulldogs to 15 consecutive regular-season victories, but he has yet to defeat a top-10 team.
"I think I've been a part of some big-time games against some big-time teams in my first two years and so far this year, so I don't think I'm going to be any more nervous Saturday," Murray said. "I get a little nervous before every game and work my way out. I'm mentally and physically ready, and I think I'm a lot more mature for these big-time games in big-time environments."
Should Murray guide the Bulldogs to victory against the Gamecocks, he would join those who preceded him in the Mark Richt era. Greene, D.J. Shockley, Matthew Stafford and Joe Cox each notched at least one triumph over a top-10 team; Stafford had three such conquests.
Murray's only wins over ranked opponents occurred late last season, when the Bulldogs thumped No. 24 Auburn and No. 25 Georgia Tech.
"I don't think Murray is in need of any kind of signature victory to validate the type of player he is," Richt said. "I think some quarterbacks, early in their careers, need their teammates to have faith that this guy can do it. Sometimes it happens to a kid real early in his career, but I think Murray is way past that.
"When I think of a signature victory, I think in terms of a victory that validates him as the leader and the guy who can be depended on. I think he's already done that."
Georgia's three previous matchups against top-10 teams under Murray were against Auburn in 2010 and Boise State and LSU last season. Auburn won the 2010 national title, and LSU was No. 1 a year ago before losing to Alabama in the BCS title game.
Murray has completed 89 of 130 passes (68.5 percent) this season for 1,378 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions, numbers that place him third nationally in efficiency. He is hoping to direct the explosive Bulldogs to their fifth win at Williams-Brice in their last six tries, but that locale has not been kind to Georgia offenses.
Williams-Brice is the only SEC setting in which the Bulldogs have competed under Richt and failed to score more than 20 points -- winning by scores of 13-7, 20-16, 18-0 and 14-7 before losing 17-6 two years ago. The Bulldogs opened league play with the Gamecocks in each of those seasons, so might a later date this time around benefit Georgia's attack?
"I think it helps, especially with how young we were at the beginning of the season with the line and the running backs," Murray said. "Those guys have gotten better and better each week, even though they were pretty good from day one."
Said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo: "They're 5-0 and playing great and defense, and they're jacked for this game, so I don't know."
Bobo admitted he would take a 3-0 win in a heartbeat, and Murray agreed. Georgia's receivers aren't any different, though catching the touchdown pass to put Murray on top of the school charts would be nice.
"I didn't know that, but that's pretty cool," senior receiver Tavarres King said. "It's exciting, and it shows how Aaron has put in the time, effort and work, and that it's paying off for him. He needs to know Saturday to throw it to No. 12."
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...