More than four years ago, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger both began their college careers with the Georgia Bulldogs. Both redshirted the 2009 season behind Joe Cox, but after that their careers went off in different directions and took two drastically different paths. However, those paths will intersect once again this Saturday as Murray’s Bulldogs take on Mettenberger and the LSU Tigers in an SEC showdown of two top-10 teams.
Mettenberger has had an especially long and complicated journey to get to where he is now. After an off-field transgression, he was forced to leave Georgia before having the opportunity to play a game for the Bulldogs and ended up spending the 2010 season at a junior college before transferring to LSU prior to the 2011 season. In 2011, he spent much of the season on the bench watching Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee take the Tigers within one game of a national championship, beating Murray and the Bulldogs in the SEC Title Game along the way.
With both Jefferson and Lee gone in 2012, Metterberger waltzed into the LSU starting job uncontested but had a season littered of inconsistencies, despite showcasing enormous talent and potential. Metterberger returned as the Tigers’ starter this season, and things have gone a little smoother for him. Mettenberger is playing with far more confidence and consistency, throwing for 10 touchdowns and just one interception through the first four games, after throwing 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions all of last season.
As for Murray, when Mettenberger was forced to leave Georgia four years ago, he had no trouble winning the starting job in 2010 as a redshirt freshman. Since then Murray has been Mr. SEC. He’s been a rare four-year starter at quarterback in the nation’s best conference; he’s taken his team to the conference championship game twice, and he has a chance to take hold of several all-time SEC passing records by the end of the season.
While Mettenberger is just now establishing himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC, Murray has been in that category for quite a while, in part because he didn’t have Mettenberger standing in his way to become the Bulldogs’ starter back in 2010. Three games into his senior season, Murray has 102 career touchdown passes and over 11,000 passing yards, numbers that put to shame anything Mettenberger has accomplished in his career.
However, despite taking distinctly different paths and being far apart in their statistical achievements, Mettenberger and Murray appear to be in a similar position heading into their showdown with one another on Saturday. They are both senior quarterbacks leading a top-10 team that has both conference and national championship aspirations. They also have a lot to prove when it comes to winning the big game.
After starting out in the same place nearly five years ago and taking wildly different career paths, Murray and Mettenberger will cross paths once again on Saturday, as they play on the same field for the first time in the place where both began their college careers. They never got a chance to compete against one another for a starting spot, but now they’ll compete against each other in a game that couldn’t be more meaningful for both players, as well as their teams.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.