Following Clemson’s dramatic 25-24 victory over LSU on New Year’s Eve and Georgia’s 45-31 conquest of Nebraska on New Year’s Day, it’s OK to look ahead to next season’s opener, isn’t it?
It’s just 242 days until the Tigers and Bulldogs meet at Memorial Stadium, after all.
One thing we know (almost for sure) is that it’ll be a battle of preseason Top 10 teams.
Clemson made its case for some serious 2013 poll love in the waning moments of 2012, coming through in the clutch with one of the most clutch drives in the school’s long football history.
The architect was junior quarterback Tajh Boyd, who took a tremendous pounding from LSU’s elite defense but kept getting up for more.
Watching Boyd’s gutsy performance reminded me of the scene in Rocky II when Apollo Creed’s trainer, Duke, warned the champ about mixing it up with Balboa:
“I saw you beat that man like I ain’t never seen no man get beat before, and the man kept coming after you.”
Boyd was certainly the man on Monday, and because he kept coming after the Bayou Bengals, the Tigers have 11 gridiron wins in a season for just the fourth time.
But following Boyd’s 36-50-0, 346-yard, two touchdown effort, might he decide to forgo his senior year at Clemson and opt to suit up on Sundays? Most folks in the loop (like offensive coordinator Chad Morris) say no.
Still, one can’t completely dismiss the possibility, especially after the Tigers’ field general looked very much NFL-ready in the Georgia Dome on New Year’s Eve.
On the one hand Dabo Swinney’s team should be loaded next fall; even without Boyd the Tigers will be formidable.
On the other hand with Boyd in charge – especially the Boyd that showed up and showed off on Monday – a team closing in on greatness might close the deal more quickly.
Jump to Athens, U.S.A., home of the two-time defending SEC East champs and record breaking quarterback Aaron Murray, who lit up the Cornhuskers for five touchdowns and more than 400 passing yards on Tuesday.
Murray came into the Capital One Bowl as the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for 3,000 yards or more in three consecutive seasons. When he connected on a 29-yard TD pass to Arthur Lynch in the first half he set the single-season passing yardage record at Georgia, giving him 3,544 yards.
He also came into the game with a college degree – and a year of football eligibility he is under no obligation to use
That last piece of information hints that the bowl game against Nebraska was probably his last wearing the Red and Black, and many pro scouts are suggesting he’s ready to move up and move on.
But what if he stays?
Obviously UGA coach Mark Richt would welcome him back with open arms, postponing the depth chart promotion of Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay.
And a team with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall running could still make room for a few Murray passes, I’m sure.
Murray has already expressed his desire to earn a doctorate in industrial organizational psychology, so football isn’t his entire life.
That being the case, holding off a year on making football his livelihood doesn’t seem the least bit odd.
The bottom line is that Boyd and Murray are terrific quarterbacks with great futures, and Clemson and Georgia have the chance to be two of college football’s best teams in 2013, regardless of who stands behind center for the Tigers or Dawgs.
Seeing both No. 10 and No. 11 participate in the border battle at Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31 sure would be fun to watch, though.