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Senior College Football Columnist

Mailbag: On Aaron Murray, Penn State and Nevada's next move

Here is this week's mailbag. As always, send your questions to me via Twitter to @BFeldmanCBS:

From @HistoryofMatt: How should Dawgs fans feel about Aaron Murray? I see him as UGA's TonyRomo: Lots of numbers. No real substance to show for it.

Interesting comparison. I do think it's tough to compare the careers/legacies of college guys to NFL guys because there are so many differences between the two off the field. In terms of how a fan base should feel, I do think it is impressive how Murray has conducted himself as a leader and one of the faces of a big program from the time he became a starter as a freshman. Stuff like that should matter, too.

On paper, Murray's stats in three years are really strong: almost 10,000 yards passing and a 90-30 TD-INT ratio is stellar. The downside: his play and the Dawgs record against ranked teams is pretty shaky. This year, Georgia played three strong teams (South Carolina, Florida and Alabama) and his TD-IN ratio was 2-5 and he completed just 41 of 88 passes. That doesn't measure up with the other guys we think of as truly elite college QBs.

I'd say, at this point -- and Murray still has one more season left -- he's been a very good college QB. I don't see folks looking at him as a “great” college quarterback unless he leads Georgia to an SEC title. Now that doesn't mean every starting QB who played for an SEC title team in the past decade should be remembered as great, but I think given how much talent Georgia has on defense, it's fair to think that a truly great QB could lead such a team to a conference title and elite status.

Murray probably won't be able to win over any more skeptics in the bowl game against a Nebraska team that just surrendered 70 points its last time out. This is going to have to happen in 2013 in SEC play in the fall. He's already got the stats. He just needs more big wins.

From @dyoung1974: How is PSU doing in recruiting? Better or worse then expected? Can they compete with top-25 programs in that regard?

Much better than I would've expected given the fact these recruits will come to college knowing they won't have a chance to play in a bowl game for almost their entire careers. That's a tough thing to get around. In addition, due to the diminished scholarship numbers, depth issues are going to make competing in the Big Ten increasingly harder over each of the next four to five years.

Given all of that, it's even more impressive that Bill O'Brien and Penn State have been able to get four blue-chippers (QB Christian Hackenberg and four-star recruits TE Adam Breneman, DE Garrett Sickels and OT Andrew Nelson) committed and keep them committed. Those are kids many elite programs wanted, so it's showing the program can still compete for some blue-chippers. According to CBSSports.com's recruiting partner, 247 Sports, Penn State is No. 17 in its last rankings.

From @powerkcd: Is Muschamp getting enough credit for this season, no love in AP coach of the year

No, he didn't. In the past three months Florida coach Will Muschamp silenced every ounce of doubt skeptics may have had about him as a head coach. Despite an unsettled QB situation and limited talent at receiver, the Gators almost always proved to be the more physical and more disciplined team.

Last year, Florida was 0-5 against ranked opponents and went 7-6. This year it is 4-1 against teams that were ranked in the top 25 and 3-1 against top-10 opponents.

Muschamp talked all offseason about how the Gators had been dominated in the fourth quarter of SEC games last season, getting outscored 72-22. This season it was the Gators pushing SEC rivals around, outscoring them 61-20 in the fourth quarter. Add in the rest of UF's opponents (including the 24-6 runaway final quarter in Tallahassee) and you get a 115-29 edge.

For it being only Year Two, and for a first-time head coach starting out at a big program following a star coach, it really has been an amazing season for Muschamp and UF.

From @Frizz527: Who wins the SEC East in 2013?

Ideally, I'd like to hold off on the way-early predictions until at least after the bowl games and the deadline for underclassmen leaving for the NFL has passed, but at this point I'd be tempted to go with Florida over Georgia and South Carolina. I like where the Gators are headed, especially as they get more settled into this offensive identity and continue to upgrade the talent at receiver. But they'll miss guys like Jon Bostic and they could also lose a bunch of gifted underclassmen from the defense.

From @Packfootballfan: Who do you think Nevada likely targets to build off of what Coach Ault has done?

In terms of building off what Chris Ault has done I suspect the school will give a lot of consideration to Jim Mastro, a former longtime Nevada assistant who helped Ault develop the Pistol and who really understands the culture of what the program is about.

The 48-year-old Mastro has spent the last few seasons coaching in the Pac-12 at UCLA and at Washington State. He's a very good recruiter and has coached on both sides of the ball at Nevada and special teams.

The tricky thing here is that the head coach will be hired by the school president before the new AD is hired and the new guy will have to keep on most of the same staff because of contract situations. In addition, the job isn't going to lure a lot of sitting head coaches because the pay is going to be on the very low end of the FBS level and facilities aren't great. Due to recruiting, the school has to work fast.

From @SGTWillReinier: If the BCS had a 32-team playoff, do you see a more dangerous team than Baylor right now?

OK, I'll play. If we had four eight-team brackets, Baylor would be the most dangerous high-seed at this point and would surely have a good shot of pulling off the 6-3 upset, and then a puncher's chance at taking down the winner of a 4-5.

No one questions how potent Art Briles' offense is. He's got a heady, accurate triggerman in Nick Florence and a dynamic crew of skill talent. On Thursday night the Bruins looked lost against them early and got tentative. And then things snowballed.

The Baylor defense played very well against a talented UCLA offense although it should be noted that the Bruins O-line was severely short-handed by injury. Baylor, which entered the game No. 112 in the country in sacks and had just 13 on the season, rang up five in the first half. As I noted Thursday night, since the Bears opener, every Baylor opponent -- even Kansas -- had scored at least 14 points by halftime. Until UCLA.

More of a head scratcher was seeing Baylor, dead last in the nation in third-down defense (and actually by quite a large margin), hold the Bruins to a 1 for 17 on the night.

As improved as the Baylor D looked in the Holiday Bowl, I still have my doubts whether it could hold up in back-to-back games. But it probably would make things very interesting.

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