Jan 12, 2013; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney (left) and quarterback Tajh Boyd (right) with the 2012 Chick-Fil-A bowl trophy during the first half of the game against the Virginia Cavaliers at J.C. Littlejohn Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Heisman Top 25: No. 5 Tajh Boyd

Only 76 players in the history of college football have earned the designation of Heisman Trophy winners. First awarded in 1935, the Heisman Trophy is considered the sport’s pinnacle of individual achievement.

SaturdayBlitz.com is tracking the race to the 78th Heisman Trophy throughout the 2013 college football season via the Heisman Top 25. Every week throughout the season, we are tracking the progress of the contenders, both their on-field impact and media presence.

Losing The Big One, or suffering defeat in the most gut-wrenching of fashion, is defined in the college football lexicon simply as “Clemsoning.”

Marquee wins have largely eluded the program in recent years. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier doesn’t miss an opportunity to remind the orange-and-purple who has ruled the Palmetto State.

Champions aren’t built without tribulations, though. How they respond determines their mettle. Michael Jordan had to get through the Bad Boy Pistons to claim his first championship. Boyd’s late-game heroics to best the LSU Tigers in last December’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl could be Clemson’s version of the ’91 Bulls ousting Detroit from the Eastern Conference Finals.

How Tajh Boyd Wins The Heisman

Clemson is a viable championship contender in the upcoming season. Now, years of heartache suggests that the Tigers are destined for more in 2013. The expectations of a BCS bowl and perhaps even national championship seem almost foreign. But Tajh Boyd is the kind of special quarterback capable of leading a program to unexpected heights.

His road to the Heisman starts early — earlier than most. A Week 1 date against a Georgia Bulldogs defense that will be without several key players for the first time provides Boyd a prime foundation for his and Clemson’s season.

The ACC docket plays out in Clemson’s favor. While no Saturday can be taken for granted, particularly for a vexed program, the Tigers welcome Florida State and Georgia Tech to Death Valley. They also avoid Virginia Tech, Miami and North Carolina.

Leading Clemson to an ACC championship alone is not enough. The Tigers’ season-bookending contests against the SEC are vital to Boyd’s Heisman candidacy.

In addition to the season opener against Georgia, CU closes out the season as it always does, facing South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been an albatross for Clemson. Boyd has never beaten his rival. This year, South Carolina’s own Heisman candidate, Jadeveon Clowney, will be looking to etch his name on the Heisman Trophy by stopping Boyd.

Boyd cannot win the Heisman without beating South Carolina. But if he does pull off the win in Columbia and lead the Tigers to a BCS bowl, the college football vocabulary can add a new verb for describing overcoming curses: “Boyding.”

Statistical Overview

• 287-427 passing (67.2 percent); 3896 yards

• 36 passing touchdowns

• 186 carries/514 yards (2.8 ypc)

• 10 rushing touchdowns

Compared To Past Heisman Winners

  • Pat Sullivan, 1971: The Auburn Tigers great threw for 21 touchdowns in his Heisman-winning season, a modest figure by today’s standards. But in 1971, he was well ahead of the pack among his fellow Heisman finalists. Sullivan aired it out plenty in his time on the Plains, but also demonstrated an adequate rushing facet.

    He scored 18 touchdowns on the ground in three seasons. Boyd has a similar component to his game. Make no mistake, he is a passer first and foremost, and an outstanding one at that. His rushing average was under 2 yards per carry in 2011, and below 3 last season. However, he surpassed 500 yards in 2012 and scored 10 touchdowns.

  • Troy Smith, 2006: Ohio State’s most recent Heisman winner led the Buckeyes to a BCS title appearance with a strong, accurate arm. Smith threw 30 touchdowns in 2006, a shockingly high number at Ohio State.

    Smith was more of a traditional dual-threat quarterback earlier in his career than Boyd, averaging nearly 5 yards per carry in 2005. But during his Heisman campaign, Smith’s feet were used more to accent his outstanding passing, and to give the Buckeye offense an added wrinkle.

Tags: Clemson Tigers Football Heisman Top 25 Heisman Trophy

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