Clemson vs Auburn: Tajh Boyd Must Shine to Put Orange Bowl Blunder Behind Tigers

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04:  Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers looks to pass against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tajh Boyd will need to come up huge if Clemson wants to show that its 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia was an anomaly.

The Tigers get a chance to atone for their loss in prime time when they take on the Auburn Tigers in Atlanta in front of a national audience.

Clemson is coming off of a 10-win season in which it won its first ACC title since 1991. Unfortunately, it was the disappointing Orange Bowl loss that defined the season. A big win against an SEC opponent like Auburn would go a long way in putting that blunder behind the team and setting up another BCS run.

Beating Auburn won't be easy. These two teams have traditionally matched up well. The teams have split the last two games as Auburn won in overtime in 2010 while Clemson came up with the win 38-24 in 2011. 

To ensure they get the win this time around, the Tigers need to utilize their biggest advantage in the game—a proven playmaker in Boyd. He was a pivotal cog in an offense that put up 33.6 points per game and just under 4,000 yards passing.

Boyd's experience will be huge if this game turns into another shootout. He may have been outgunned by Geno Smith in the Orange Bowl, but he'll have a big advantage over Kiehl Frazier, who will be making his debut as a starter for Auburn. 

Auburn, despite its reputation for good defense, hasn't been great on defense the last two years. In 2011, the team gave up an average of 406 yards per game and ranked 80th in the country.

The Tigers defense should be improved under new defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder, but this game will provide Boyd with the opportunity to show that he is one of the nation's top quarterbacks. 

With a primetime matchup against a less-than-elite defense, Tajh Boyd will need to be at his absolute best if he wants to make his claim as dark-horse Heisman candidate and re-establish Clemson as a BCS bowl favorite in the ACC.