Underrated Murray leads Georgia
By John Harris
Published: Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 11:17 p.m.
When will Georgia senior quarterback Aaron Murray finally receive the serious Heisman Trophy consideration he deserves?
Murray leads the No. 7 Bulldogs against No. 25 Missouri on Saturday. In his last game, Murray rallied Georgia's depleted offense to a late touchdown with five seconds left in regulation and set up the winning field goal in a 34-31 overtime win at Tennessee.
Murray ranks seventh nationally in passing efficiency and 12th with 306.8 passing yards per game.
Georgia, despite losing its top three receivers and top two running backs to injuries, is 4-1 and 3-0 in the brutal SEC. That alone should merit Murray, the SEC's career leader with 11,625 passing yards, legitimate Heisman consideration.
Perhaps Murray is overlooked because Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, last year's Heisman winner, plays in the SEC. Texas A&M (4-1) is ranked No. 9.
Murray could have an opportunity to pull off what Manziel couldn't a few weeks ago: topple top-ranked Alabama. Manziel won the Heisman after leading Texas A&M to a win over Alabama in 2012.
It could take a Georgia upset over Alabama for Murray to win the Heisman.
Georgia plays in the SEC's East Division, while Alabama plays in the West. Both teams lead their respective divisions. As a result, Georgia and Alabama can meet head-to-head only in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 6 in Atlanta.
It would be a rematch of last year's SEC title thriller won by Alabama, 32-28. Murray drove the Bulldogs to the Alabama 5 but was unable to run another play as time ran out.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS ... AGAIN?
Of the 25 teams in this week's Associated Press poll, No. 23 Northern Illinois is the only one that isn't a member of a BCS conference.
When Northern Illinois advanced to face Florida State in the Discover Orange Bowl last season for its first BCS bowl appearance in school history, it was easy to take the Huskies for a fluke.
However, history is repeating itself. Northern Illinois has defeated a pair of Big Ten opponents (Iowa and Purdue) in building a 5-0 record. The Huskies host Akron on Saturday in a Mid-American Conference matchup.
Rod Carey replaced former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren, who left to become coach at North Carolina State. Both had the good sense to highlight senior quarterback Jordan Lynch, who ranks 13th in total offense and 23rd in rushing and could lead Northern Illinois to a second straight appearance in a BCS bowl.
First it was a stomach virus. Then it was bone spurs in his foot. Most recently, a strained rib cage sidelined South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney against Kentucky.
It's too early to know whether Clowney, once regarded as the projected No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, will play against Arkansas on Saturday. But it isn't too early to speculate whether Clowney already is looking ahead to playing in the pros and wants to play in college any longer.
A year after finishing sixth in Heisman Trophy voting with a nation-leading 13 sacks, Clowney has 12 tackles and two sacks.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he was surprised Clowney didn't play against Kentucky, and that although he's hopeful Clowney will play this week, the decision rests with Clowney.
Clowney's former college teammate, running back Marcus Lattimore, was considered a surefire first-round pick until suffering a horrific knee injury last season. Lattimore's draft stock plummeted, and San Francisco didn't selected him until the fourth round. The injury cost Lattimore millions of dollars.
Clowney and Lattimore remain in touch, and you can't help but wonder how much Lattimore's injury and his fall in the draft impacted Clowney.
BRILES NEXT IN LINE FOR NFL JOB?
The Philadelphia Eagles were quick to hire former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who was a hot commodity among NFL teams. Can Baylor coach Art Briles be far behind?
Briles turned Robert Griffin III into a Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 pick in last year's draft. What Briles has done since Griffin's departure may be even more impressive.
No. 15 Baylor, fresh off a 73-42 rout of West Virginia, leads the NCAA in six offensive categories. The Bears are No. 1 in scoring and total offense, averaging an incredible 70.5 points and 779.5 yards per game. They also rank No. 1 in yards per play, first downs per game, passing yards per game and yards per completion.
Under Briles, little-known junior quarterback Bryce Petty is the national leader in passing efficiency. Moreover, junior running back Lache Seastrunk ranks second in rushing yards per game while averaging 10.1 yards per carry and 13.3 carries per game.
SEC STILL THE BEST
You know the SEC remains the dominant league when it has more teams in the top 10 (four) than the Big Ten has in the entire top 25 (three). The SEC has seven teams in this week's poll. No other league has more than four.
The Pac-12 and ACC each feature two teams in the top 10 with a total of four teams in the poll. The Big 12 is the only so-called power conference without a team in the top 10. The Big Ten and American Athletic have one team apiece in the top 10.
Eight leagues are represented in this week's poll. The Mid-American and Mountain West feature one team apiece.
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