Both teams facing each other in the Capital One Bowl were coming off of disappointing losses. However, Aaron Murray put the onus upon himself to make sure Georgia’s departing seniors (and potential juniors) would leave their mark on the UGA record books.
The junior quarterback cemented his place amongst the greatest to ever lace ’em up for the Dawgs with a record-setting performance against a Cornhuskers team that simply would not go away. Murray tossed two early interceptions, but shook both off to set school postseason passing records in the team’s 45-31 win over Nebraska.
Already the school’s all-time leader in touchdown passes thrown, Murray tacked on five more while also throwing for 427 yards, both bowl game records for Georgia.
For a while, it looked like the Bulldogs were going to need every last inch.
Georgia had roughly a month to get the bad taste of a tough loss to Alabama in the SEC title game out of their mouths. Nebraska got embarrassed in the Big Ten Championship game, allowing Wisconsin to run all over the field in hanging a whopping 70 points on the Huskers.
Both teams came out with a chip on their respective shoulders, both teams came out hitting hard, and both teams came out expecting that ever-elusive ‘W’.
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez matched Murray step for step throughout the early going. Also a junior, Martinez threw two first half touchdown passes to send his squad into the locker room at halftime with a 24-23 lead.
However, the second half was all Georgia, especially defensively. Martinez was sacked five times overall, and twice by superstar linebacker Jarvis Jones. One of the most talented individuals in the country at any position, Jones finished his junior campaign with14.5 sacks, setting, like Murray, a school record.
The records have all been set. Coach Mark Richt’s squad scored 14 unanswered fourth quarter points. The team’s third down efficiency offensively, converting 12 of the team’s 17 third down tries, was remarkably clutch.
All of that adds up to, yes, a win — the Dawgs’ 12th, to be exact.
It is only the third time in the history of the program that Georgia has reached the 12-win plateau. Murray, after yet another spectacular day on the field, understands that such a number is far more important than anything he put together statistically.
“I don’t know what it’s like to head into an offseason with a win,” Murray told the AP. “It’s a great feeling to get a win. It’s great for the seniors, who have meant so much to this team. They’ve done a great job of leading this team the whole season.
“To get 12 wins … That’s something special.”
Yes, yes it is.
Now Murray, Jones, and a few other star juniors must decide whether to parlay their success into their senior year, or whether to declare for the NFL Draft. It is a big decision, but for the time being, everyone in the Red and Black is simply going to enjoy yet another in a season full of victories.
“We wanted to win this game to prove to ourselves that we are one of the better teams in the country,” Richt said. “I think our guys did a good job of sucking it up when they were tired … But when you make a big play here and there, it gives you a little more energy as well … We made enough big plays at the right moment.”
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