ATHENS, Ga. — Aaron Murray passed for four touchdowns, including a 25-yarder to Justin Scott-Wesley with 1:47 left, as No. 9 Georgia rallied to beat No. 6 LSU 44-41 in a back-and-forth matchup between SEC powerhouses Saturday.
The Bulldogs completed their opening-month run through a gantlet of top teams with a victory that propelled them back into the thick of the national championship race.
"We've played some hard teams," Scott-Wesley said. "It just shows we're a great team. We can handle anything anybody throws at us."
Georgia was only the fourth team since the BCS began in 1998 to face three top 10 teams in the first four games of a season. The Bulldogs opened with a 38-35 nonconference loss to Clemson but came back to beat South Carolina 41-30 and now the Tigers.
"We've grown up a lot this past month," said Murray, a former star at Plant High. "I think everyone in the nation knows what Georgia football is about now. We're a tough group of guys. We're fighters."
Now, the Bulldogs are well-positioned to make a run for their third straight East title and trip to the SEC title game.
"We're definitely happy," Murray said. "If had to lose one of these games, obviously Clemson was the one, just because they're in the ACC. Not saying we wanted to lose. Don't get me wrong. But this is huge."
LSU got a career-best 372 yards passing from former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger in his return to Athens, and the Tigers went ahead 41-37 on Jeremy Hill's 8-yard touchdown run with 4:14 to go.
But that was plenty of time for Murray and the high-powered Bulldogs on a day when neither defense had much success.
"We have a long road ahead of us to get back to the top," Mettenberger said. "We have to win out."
Murray and Mettenberger were in the same recruiting class at Georgia, contending for the starting job in the spring of 2010. Mettenberger, from nearby Watkinsville, grew up cheering for the Bulldogs. But he was kicked off the team after pleading guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery charges after an incident in a bar. Still, his ties run deep — his mother, Tammy, still works in the school's football operations.
Tide blanks Rebels
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama responded to a week of soul-searching with a dominating defensive performance against Mississippi.
T.J. Yeldon rushed for 121 yards and Kenyan Drake gained 99 as the top-ranked Crimson Tide's defense smothered high-octane No. 21 Mississippi 25-0.
The Tide regrouped after a lackluster effort against Colorado State that prompted several team leaders to speak up and a series of one-on-one chats with coach Nick Saban during the week. Saban had said Alabama players were feeling "overwhelmed with expectations."
"It'll be huge for the confidence of our players," said Saban, whose team outgained the Rebels 434-205.
Ole Miss sought its first 4-0 start in 43 years but instead was shut out for the first time since Arkansas did it in November 1998.
No. 10 Texas A&M 45, Ark. 33: Johnny Manziel put on the show Arkansas dreaded in the first half.
A year after Manziel had his coming-out party in a 58-10 win over Arkansas, with 557 yards of total offense, he was back at it again for the visiting Aggies.
The sophomore accounted for 253 of his 320 total yards in the first half, including two touchdown passes to Mike Evans.
"We asked (Manziel) to make plays, and he made plays," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. "He took care of the ball. We were able to run it and be patient."
Tenn. 31, S. Alabama 24: Brian Randolph made a clinching, fourth-and-goal interception in the end zone with 1:51 left for the host Volunteers, who squandered most of a 24-point lead before hanging on. South Alabama had first and goal at the 7-yard line in the closing minutes but, from the 8, quarterback Ross Metheny was hit by Corey Vereen while releasing the pass that Randolph intercepted.
Vanderbilt 52, UAB 24: Jerron Seymour ran for two first-half touchdowns for the host Commodores. In the second quarter, Seymour took a direct snap and ran for a 58-yard score on the only play of that drive. It was the first two-TD game for the sophomore, who set a career high with 107 yards rushing.
Missouri 41, Arkansas St. 19: Quarterback James Franklin orchestrated two long touchdown drives and added a score on the ground in the second half to help the host Tigers break it open after they trailed 16-14.