Aaron Murray's record against top-25 teams isn't pretty, but look closer

Streeter Lecka

The senior Georgia quarterback has been criticized for not being able to win big games in the past. Is it justified?

Over the past four years, Aaron Murray has garnered the reputation of not being able to win The Big Game, famously including Georgia's near-miss against Alabama in last year's national championship play-in game. Those beliefs were magnified last weekend as the Bulldogs fell to Clemson.

With the South Carolina Gamecocks coming to town this Saturday for an SEC showdown, the spotlight is squarely on Murray once again. Win the game, and UGA is right back in contention for the national title. Lose, and the senior quarterback will likely wrap up his SEC-record-breaking college career without playing in a BCS bowl game.

Put it all together and Murray's record against ranked teams is 4-11, including three losses in three years against South Carolina and just one win in postseason play.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you find Murray's reputation as a guy who doesn't show up for big games might be unwarranted. Against ranked foes, Murray's quarterback rating was 133.50 in 2012, 128.65 in 2011, and 133.42 in 2010. In 2012, he ranked fourth in the country in passer rating against BCS-conference opponents, with 166.77 over 11 games.

In the fourth quarter last season, Murray's quarterback rating was 11th best in the country. He also ranked in the top 10 in passer rating in the second half, on third down, when up by a single score, and when down by a single score. He ranked No. 1 in the month of November. His most memorable moments might be final-minute failings, but on the whole he plays very well in crunch time.

All of this is to say that while Georgia might not win The Big Game, it's rarely because Murray played poorly. Quarterbacks are always under the spotlight more than anyone else, and for better or for worse, the media and fans tend to unfairly label them at times.

On Saturday, Murray will have a chance to silence his critics and keep the Dawgs in the hunt for a national championship. Fair or not, everyone will look to him once the game is complete, win or lose.

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