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COLLEGE FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT

Tailback shortage doesn't stop Georgia from crushing Aggies

With four ballcarriers suspended or injured, the Bulldogs use five touchdown passes by Aaron Murray and roll up 627 yards of offense in 63-16 win over New Mexico State.

November 05, 2011|By Mike Hiserman
  • Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray rolls out on a pass play against New Mexico State on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray rolls out on a pass play against New Mexico… (Scott Cunningham / Getty…)

At least DeWayne Walker will always have 13-9.

That was his shining moment as UCLA's defensive coordinator in 2006, when the Bruins knocked USC out of the Bowl Championship Series title game by shutting down the Trojans at the Rose Bowl.

Nowadays, highlights are few and far between. Walker is in his third season as head coach at New Mexico State, and it looked as if maybe he caught a break when Saturday's opponent, Georgia, was without its top four tailbacks.

Unfortunately for Walker, the Bulldogs figured out a way to adjust: They let quarterback Aaron Murray pass. And pass, and pass.

Murray threw for five touchdowns — in the second quarter — as Georgia routed the Aggies, 63-16, even with a cornerback starting at tailback and a former walk-on receiver doing most of the running.

The Bulldogs had 627 yards in offense, the most since a 1993 game against Southern Mississippi, and nine players scored touchdowns.

"I don't think I got touched one time by their defense," Murray said, trying hard to recall. "I had the quarterback sneak, but I just feel on that one."

Georgia's tailback situation appeared dire when leading rusher Isaiah Crowell and backups Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome were suspended for the game after reportedly failing drug tests. Top reserve Richard Samuel was already out with an ankle injury.

Branden Smith, a cornerback, started at tailback and had a 56-yard touchdown run. But most of the work went to Brandon Harton, a 5-foot-6 sophomore who wasn't awarded a scholarship until August.

Harton fumbled on his first carry but finished with 98 yards and a touchdown in 15 carries.

How fortunate for Georgia that those one-game suspensions fell on a week the Bulldogs weren't facing a Southeastern Conference opponent.

Surely just a coincidence.

Stating his Case

Well, you could see this coming.

Houston's Case Keenum became college football's career passing leader by completing 39 of 44 passes for 407 yards against Alabama Birmingham.

That was about par for the course against the Blazers, who have one of the nation's worst defenses.

Keenum's career total is up to 17,212 yards, putting him ahead of Hawaii's Timmy Chang.

Keenum already held the career records for touchdown passes, touchdowns responsible for and total offense — now 141, 163 and 18,094.

Houston is 9-0 for the first time ever.

Raising Kain

Northwestern's Dan Persa is second among Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks in accuracy, but his backup showed against Nebraska that he can do a little of everything.

Sophomore Kain Colter ran for two touchdowns and passed for one as the Wildcats upset the Huskers, 28-25. Colter ran for 57 yards and completed four of six passes for 115 yards. For good measure, he even caught three passes for 57 yards.

Enough said

Things got chippy between Tobacco Road rivals last week, with North Carolina State's Tom O'Brien exchanging barbs with Everett Withers, North Carolina's interim coach about graduation rates and the NCAA's investigation of the Tar Heels' program.

O'Brien's team had the last word, though, shutting out North Carolina for the first time since 1960, 13-0.

North Carolina State's defense came into the game ranked in the lower half of every Atlantic Coast Conference defensive category, having given up at least 400 yards to three of its last four league opponents. But the Tar Heels had minus-seven yards in the first quarter, 32 in the first half and didn't reach triple digits until the fourth quarter.

Streakers

Florida's losing streak is over; Vanderbilt's isn't.

The Gators had lost four in a row — all to ranked teams — before squeaking out a 26-21 win over the Commodores. That was Florida's longest losing slide since 1988. The Gators haven't lost five in a row since 1979. Vanderbilt has now lost 21 straight to Florida and hasn't won in Gainesville since 1958.

The Commodores have played well the last four weeks and have just one win to show for it, over Army. The others were all close losses to Southeastern Conference foes — 33-28 to Georgia, 31-28 to Arkansas and then to Florida.

Close wasn't good enough for Coach James Franklin. "I'm proud of this team," he said Saturday. "I wouldn't say especially proud. I'll be especially proud when we win."

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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