Murray to Crack .500 by Tennessee River?
Greetings from the undeniable Capital of the South. Enjoying the almost always beautiful autumn in Atlanta easier for me when Georgia beats Tennessee. My favorite month can turn quicker than the leaves, when UT does what UT used to do annually to UGA. Donnan broke through and then Richt hobnail booted, and the rivalry fully turned after nine straight losses. Tennessee actually lost its luster for us as a top rival, until they began to periodically beat us again. It felt good to see them crushed 41-14 Between the Hedges last season, but as my UT friend reminded me: “Tennessee was just as good as Georgia last year by the end of the season.”
Preseason All-SEC QB Aaron Murray was a far from acceptable 1-3 against our top SEC rivals last season (Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, S. Carolina) and is 0-1 this season as he faces the current top statistical QB in the league, Tyler Bray. Saturday night Murray can for the first time crack the career record .500 plateau with a victory. Guess what Coach Richt: This is a must-win.
The past two trips to Rocky Top have been abysmal for our embattled head coach. Though the talented Stafford-Moreno-Massaquoi led squad rallied to finish a national #2, they in effect lost the national championship by playing the worst first half of Georgia football I’d then seen outside of Jacksonville. (It was worse than the W.VA. Georgia Dome Sugar Bowl and later barely surpassed by the next season’s home BAMA debacle). Two years ago, Knoxville was not much better. In totality of bad big game, it was far worse. Loudmouth Lane Kiffin promised that UT would never lose to UGA while he coached at Tennessee. He backed it up by clearly out-coaching Richt in an utter blowout and then exiting to Hollywood at season’s end. Enter Lil’ Dooley.
I saw this bit of insult on TV this weekend: Who will win the SEC East? A. Florida, B. S. Carolina, C. Georgia, D. Vanderbilt…the once-mighty Tennessee Volunteers were not on the list but private elitist university Vandy was. Holy Peyton Manning, Batman. They have fallen off the proverbial mountain, yet with one loss they are currently tied for the divisional lead in the loss column – which is what matters most. While I am hoping UT falls out of contention this weekend, I can’t feel overly confident. Vegas likes Georgia in this game – by one single point.
Always a huge contest, this variety of the annual Georgia-Tennessee game is the most important of Aaron Murray’s career. He can either cement himself as a consistent leader, bouncing back from an uncharacteristic three-interception home game by winning on the road for the first time in a truly hostile big time SEC venue. Or the whole program can again regress and expect a new head football coach next season. We have not seen Murray play well for four quarters and win on such a big stage. This game is ELVIS.