Georgia's Murray looks for century vs. North Texas
Aaron Murray is building quite a resume.
Already the first quarterback in Southeastern Conference history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in three straight seasons, Georgia's senior goes into Saturday's game against North Texas needing one more touchdown pass to join Danny Wuerffel as the only SEC players to reach the century mark in that category.
Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, had 114 TD passes running the ''Fun `n' Gun'' offense at Florida.
Murray is next on the list with 99.
''It's definitely been a successful three years and two games thus far,'' Murray said, ''but hopefully there will be a lot more to come.''
He still remembers his first one, ''a little back-shoulder fade'' to Kris Durham in his first college game, against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2010. Since then, Murray has guided the No. 9 Bulldogs (1-1) to a pair of SEC East titles and came just a few yards short of reaching the BCS championship game last season.
The one knock against Murray: He couldn't win the big game. But his performance two weeks ago against South Carolina went a long toward erasing that reputation; he threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-30 victory.
''When he plays like that, everyone rallies around him,'' receiver Chris Conley said.
Murray will probably need to work fast if he's going to get No. 100 against North Texas (2-1). The Bulldogs opened as a 36 1/2-point favorite, and the starters will make an early exit if Georgia opens a big lead. In the midst of a brutal opening schedule - two games already against teams ranked in the Top 10, another looming next week vs. No. 6 LSU - this is probably the only chance to get the backups some extensive playing time in the opening month.
Rest assured, though, the Georgia coaches have reminded the players about all the teams that already have lost to lower-division schools, not to mention No. 15 Michigan needing a goal-line stand to beat Akron.
North Texas is simply looking for the sort of defining win that could propel the program to greater heights, on the heels of moving from the Sun Belt to Conference USA this season.
The Mean Green is off to its best start since 1994 after rallying from 18 points down to beat Ball State last week. But they have just one victory over a ranked team in 45 tries - an upset of then-No. 20 San Diego State back in 1974.
''There has been so many bad years,'' coach Dan McCarney told reporters in a conference call this week. ''We're just trying to give our fans hope, make it relevant again, make it exciting, make it fun.''
This game isn't likely to be much fun for the Mean Green, but here's five things to know as they face Georgia:
BUILDING DEPTH: Practice is fine, but there's nothing like game experience to show what you can really do. Second-string quarterback Hutson Mason could get an extended look. Ditto for freshmen running backs J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas. The main goal for Georgia is to come out of this game without any significant injuries heading into LSU.
HE'S BACK: Sophomore Marshall Morgan will again be handling the kicking duties for the Bulldogs after serving a two-game suspension. He sat out the games against Clemson and South Carolina after being arrested over the summer for boating under the influence. Patrick Beless did a good job filling in for Morgan, making both of his field-goal attempts and all 10 extra points. But Morgan has a much stronger leg, which gives Georgia more options on the opponent's side of the field.
TURNOVER FRENZY: North Texas has forced more turnovers than any school in the nation - 11 through three games. The seven forced fumbles also ranks No. 1, so Georgia better make sure to wrap up the ball a little tighter. In McCarney's three years as coach, the Mean Green are plus-15 in turnover ratio.
LEAKY D: Georgia will be looking to make a statement defensively after giving up 68 points the first two weeks. The Bulldogs are rebuilding on that side of the line but expect rapid improvement with a unit that includes three true freshmen starters.
MCCARNEY VS. GEORGIA: The North Texas coach is very familiar with the Bulldogs, having served as a Florida assistant from 2008-10. During that time, the Gators won all three meetings with Georgia by a combined score of 124-58. That streak is unlikely to continue.
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