Tajh Boyd has already made an indelible mark on the Clemson Tigers and their football program as their quarterback. He has rewritten huge chunks of the ACC record book and claimed an ACC Championship for Clemson, carrying them into national relevancy over the last three seasons. But the one knock on Boyd and his college career is that he has failed to win the “big games” at Clemson. That’s a blemish that could take away from what should be a heralded career. Can he turn it around in the Discover Orange Bowl this January against the Ohio State Buckeyes?
Fair or not, the inability of Boyd to produce signature wins on the biggest stages will hurt his lasting image. Since going 4-2 against top 25 teams in 2011 when Clemson won the ACC title, Boyd and the Tigers are just 2-4 against top 25 opponents. Those two wins include an impressive win over the then-No. 8 LSU Tigers in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl and a 2013 season opening shootout win over the then-No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs. But Clemson has two huge games on the schedule every year against the Florida State Seminoles to decide their division and the South Carolina Gamecocks to decide supremacy of their state and against FSU and USC, Clemson is just 1-5 with Boyd under center.
That record stings but not quite as much as the lasting image of Clemson in the BCS. When the Tigers won the ACC in 2011, they went to the Orange Bowl and were blown away by the West Virginia Mountaineers 70-33. Boyd wasn’t terrible in the game with 282 total yards, two touchdowns and three turnovers, and he certainly wasn’t responsible for the non-existent defense played by the Tigers. But that’s the biggest stage that Boyd has been on up to this point in his career and it’s a major black mark on his college football legacy.
That makes this year’s Orange Bowl even more important. Boyd has a chance at redemption in the game that serves as his biggest disappointment against an elite team that had real aspirations of a BCS National Championship. This is his chance to leave Clemson on a high note, erasing the bad taste of his last trip to the BCS and erase the unfair reputation of being unable to win the “big” games. If he can do that, Tajh Boyd will cap his career at Clemson by cementing his legacy as one of the greats in college football history.