Is Clemson QB Tajh Boyd Heisman Material?

Randy ChambersAnalyst IMay 29, 2013

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 29: Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers throws a pass against the Boston College Eagles during the game on September 29, 2012 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

It could be a question on the SAT.

 "A quarterback has won the Heisman 11 of the last 12 years. Clemson's Tajh Boyd is one of several talented quarterbacks returning to college football this fall. Should he be considered for the award?''

The answer: Um, is water wet?

Besides Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller, Boyd is the third-best option to win the award. He may have an advantage over Manziel, since the Texas A&M quarterback has already won the award. As for Miller, he needs to improve as a passer to increase his chances for a Heisman..

It's hard to find a quarterback who has been as consistent as Boyd over the past two seasons. He has topped 3,800 passing yards in each of the last two seasons and thrown a combined 69 touchdown passes. Last year, he was able to take things to a completely different level, as he completed an insane 67.2 percent of his 427 pass attempts.

He has also provided these eye-popping numbers while playing behind an offensive line that has allowed him to get sacked 62 times in the last two seasons. Boyd continues to get up, bite the bullet and produce at a high level in this up-tempo Chad Morris offense.

Last season, Boyd had 10 more touchdown passes and nearly 200 more passing yards than Manziel. His 3,896 passing yards were significantly more than the 2,854 yards Cam Newton threw for when he won the award in 2010.

Big plays and big numbers draw interest from Heisman voters. And no quarterback in the country last season had more passing plays of more than 25 yards than Boyd, who had 48.

While other candidates such as Manziel, Miller and even Marcus Mariota are flashier runners, Boyd began to show more of his wheels last season. Although more of a passer than a runner, he did set career highs with 514 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He picked up 50 first downs with his legs and had three runs of 20-plus yards.

By the numbers, Boyd compares favorably to any of the other QBs in the Heisman race. He is also riding a wave of momentum after leading Clemson to a  25-24 victory over LSU in last year's Chick-fil-A Bowl. He completed 72 percent of his passes, threw for 346 yards and scored three touchdowns against LSU's elite defense.

Boyd has everything you need to be a serious candidate, but he still has to answer one question to get himself over the hump.

Can Clemson win that big game and put itself in serious contention for a national championship?

The school doesn't have to reach the big game for Boyd to snag the hardware, but Clemson must be a little more relevant than it has been the past two years. Back-to-back bowl appearances, including am embarrassing 70-33 loss to West Virginia two years ago in the Orange Bowl, have helped to elevate Clemson's profile. Two solid bowl games over the last two years has been cool, but it's time to take that next step.

In 2011, Clemson lost three of its last five regular-season games, putting a damper on the season Boyd had. The school did win 11 games last season for the first time since 1981, but losses to Florida State and South Carolina reminded folks that there is still room for improvement.

Heisman voters want to see the numbers, but they also want marquee victories and players capable of shining in the big moments.

With Boyd as the starter, Clemson is 5-4 in the last two seasons against ranked opponents. This simply isn't good enough for Heisman consideration.

However, the Tigers have seven starters returning from an offense that finished ninth in yards per game average (512.7). There are also many juicy matchups on this year's schedule, which includes Georgia, Florida State and South Carolina, giving Boyd plenty of opportunities to play well with most of the college football world watching.

Based on last season's bowl victory over LSU, there is no reason to believe that Boyd isn't Heisman material. The numbers and consistency are there. Now he just needs to win the big games.

If he does so, Boyd should have no problem emerging as a legitimate Heisman threat.

Note: All stats come from and ESPN unless otherwise noted.