By Will Vandervort
He owns 52 school records. He is the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all-time leader in touchdown passes and he is the first Clemson quarterback to win 30 or more games in a three-year period.
Tajh Boyd has accomplished just about everything at Clemson except one thing. He has not beaten South Carolina.
“That’s one thing he has not done and he knows that,” Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said.
Boyd will get his chance to rectify that next Saturday when the sixth-ranked Tigers take on 11th-ranked South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks beat Coastal Carolina, 70-10, Saturday to set up arguably the biggest game in the rivalry’s long history.
Never in the 111-year history of the rivalry have both teams come in ranked in the top 10. There is a good chance of that happening next weekend. Both schools are also still alive for an at-large BCS berth, while South Carolina still might have a chance at playing for an SEC Championship in a few weeks.
“Oh, it’s on,” Clemson running back Roderick McDowell said. “It’s a whole other season and whole other year. We have been outcoached and outplayed the last four years. It’s now time for us to do what we do – play Clemson football and do what we have to do.”
What the Tigers (10-1) have to do is beat South Carolina, something they have not done since Dabo Swinney had the tag “interim” in front of head coach.
“It’s always a goal to win every game, but when it comes down to this one it is definitely a little more important,” linebacker Spencer Shuey said. “You don’t really worry about it too much until that week comes, but once that week comes, it is definitely time to grind and time to definitely lock down and focus on our objective.”
For Boyd, it is about playing better and giving his team a chance to win. In his two starts against the Gamecocks (9-2) he has struggled to say the least. He completed only 11 of 29 passes with one interception for 83 yards in a 34-13 loss in Columbia.
Things were better in Clemson last year. Boyd threw for only 183 yards and had two interceptions while completing just 11 of 24 passes in a 27-17 defeat. He was also sacked six times and has been sacked 11 times overall by the Gamecocks in two starts against them.
“This is a legacy (game),” Boyd said. “One of the things we talked about and coach always ask us is to come up with a word to describe myself. Legacy and legendary are my two words and I kind of want to intertwine them.
“We are trying to finish off strong. What better way to go out as a senior than to go ahead and get a victory and that’s what we are trying to do.”
And there would be no better way to secure a legacy than that.