CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd had a message for the college football world: Get used to the eighth-ranked Tigers winning big games.
Over his five seasons on campus, Boyd had grown tired of his team’s reputation in the sport for flopping in the biggest games and most critical moments.
“There have been times when we have been absolutely crucified,” Boyd says, “for being one of those teams that can’t win big games.”
That’s finished, according to Boyd, who almost single-handedly put the “same old Clemson” adage to rest in his past two games.
Boyd threw for 346 yards and two touchdowns in a win over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. And Boyd passed for 270 yards and three TDs Saturday against Georgia. He also ran for 42 yards and two scores.
“We understand what we want to do as a program,” Boyd said. “And I hate hearing that we have letdowns because we are one of the more consistent teams in the country.”
Boyd might not want to listen the next few weeks because talk of potential letdowns will be frequent. The Tigers face South Carolina State on Saturday. They start Atlantic Coast Conference play on Thursday, Sept. 19, at North Carolina State and mark time until their next true challenge against Florida State at Death Valley on Oct. 19 – a game seen as deciding the ACC Atlantic Division.
Clemson will be favored the rest of the way after that until the season finale at rival South Carolina on
The sixth-ranked Gamecocks have won four in a row in the series.
That’s too far down the road for Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. He was proud of Boyd and the Tigers, saying they showed toughness and talent in a big spot. “But all this is for us is a good start,” he said Sunday.
Clemson also got positive answers to a couple of offensive questions: Would receiver Sammy Watkins flash his freshman All-American form this year and could Rod McDowell step in for two-time 1,000-yard rusher Andre Ellington.
Watkins had his eighth-career 100-yard receiving game, which included an electrifying 77-yard catch and run.
McDowell finished with 132 yards on 22 carries and proved difficult for Georgia’s young defense to slow down.
Georgia has less than a week to rebound for a much bigger game, it’s SEC opener with South Carolina on Saturday. “South Carolina is going to be watching this,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “We have to figure out what went wrong and do it better.”
That task was made more difficult Sunday. Coach Mark Richt said receiver Malcolm Mitchell tore an ACL in his knee and will be lost for the year.