Georgia QB Aaron Murray boosts draft stock vs. Florida


From 1990 to 2010, Georgia won only three of its 21 meetings with rival Florida. It's taken senior QB Aaron Murray only four years to match that number against the Gators, including Saturday's 23-20 victory.

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Murray's numbers weren't exceptional Saturday, but I thought he played extremely well against a good defensive team that features three really good cornerbacks. He got the Bulldogs off to a fast start, leading them to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter, and Georgia racked up more than 250 total yards in the first half.

The Bulldogs failed to score after halftime, thanks to several smart defensive adjustments Florida coach Will Muschamp made to slow Murray down. But with his team clinging to a 23-20 lead in the fourth quarter, Murray helped clinch the game by marching Georgia down the field for eight minutes, completing a handful of big passes to keep the drive alive.

He finished 16 of 25 for 258 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

This was a game that Murray really needed after his poor outing last week in a loss to Vanderbilt, and I believe it will help his draft status, especially when you consider the defense he faced. As he showed again Saturday, Murray really gets the ball off quickly and does it with accuracy, a skill that reminds me a little bit of Drew Brees when he played at Purdue. The big knock on Murray is that he isn't very tall, at 6-foot-1, but he's been very productive throughout his college career -- he's the SEC's career leader in passing yards and is now one score behind former Gator Danny Wuerfel for the all-time touchdowns record.

Keep in mind, too, that Murray has played much of this season without several key players on offense because of injuries, including receiver Malcolm Mitchell and RB Todd Gurley, who missed a month before returning Saturday.

Other Week 10 highlights

I think many people expected this to be a ho-hum week for college football, but it exceeded expectations, and there were several extremely good games played around the country. Here are just a few more quick takeaways:

» Everyone realizes how good Clemson junior WR Sammy Watkins is, but he proved himself again against Virginia, especially on a 96-yard touchdown catch. Saturday's performance cemented his status as one of the top two receivers in the draft, along with Texas A&M's Mike Evans, if Watkins decides to come out.

» Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw his 35th TD pass of the season last weekend, breaking the single-season OVC record previously held by Tony Romo, and Saturday he added to the mark by tossing four more touchdowns against Tennessee Tech. He also had 399 passing yards. Garoppolo is a prospect who has attracted the attention of all 32 NFL teams, including several general managers. He is No. 40 in my Hot 100.

» Everyone knew Michigan State had a good defense, and Saturday they proved it again, holding Michigan to minus-48 rushing yards. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard played very well and had an interception, and the Spartans overpowered the Wolverines with their pass rush, totaling four sacks in the first quarter alone. Michigan's standout left tackle, Taylor Lewan, who is No. 3 on my Hot 100 senior prospects list, struggled at times and didn't play like one of the top five picks in the draft.

» Montana senior LB Jordan Tripp is a prospect to watch. He played an outstanding game in the Grizzlies' 41-38 win over Sacramento State, highlighted by a touchdown-saving tackle he made late in the game (although Sacramento State did score on the very next play). At 6-3, 240 pounds, Tripp moves really well and has good athletic ability, and he has speed and size to go along with it.

» Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage can really, really throw a football, but as the Panthers showed again Saturday, when Savage was pressured and sacked several times, he just doesn't have a good offensive line in front of him. I touted Savage as a rising QB prospect earlier this season, and I haven't lost interest in him. I thought he played well, considering the protection issues, and he finished 25 of 37 for 233 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

» When Florida State RB Devonta Freeman scored a 48-yard touchdown off a screen pass in the second quarter vs. Miami, you may have noticed a big offensive lineman outrunning Freeman down the field to clear a path for him. That lineman was Josue Matias, a 6-6, 312-pound junior guard who started all 14 games last season.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter @Gil_Brandt.

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