Tajh Boyd's Exit from Clemson's Win Shouldn't Impact Heisman Chances

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2013

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 7: Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers calls a play during the game against the South Carolina State Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
Tyler Smith/Getty Images

Tajh Boyd might have left Clemson's lopsided 52-13 win over South Carolina State early, but that shouldn't see him unseated as the top guy in the Heisman Trophy race.

In the second quarter of Tigers' demolition of the Bulldogs, Boyd was forced off to the sidelines. Any time a star player has to exit a game, it causes a scare. According to Clemson, though, Boyd merely had the wind knocked out of him.

Up to that point, the senior signal-caller had racked up 169 yards on 14-of-23 passing and got a rushing touchdown. He helped Clemson to a 24-7 lead.

Some critics might look at those numbers as underwhelming, especially against an FCS team. However, if Dabo Swinney needed Boyd out there, he would have put him in. Instead, Cole Stoudt came in and was able to pick up right where Boyd left off.

There's no sense in risking your starting quarterback to further injury if you can win comfortably without him.

ESPN's Heisman Watch had the Clemson QB at the top of the list coming into the weekend, and there was very little to indicate that he's no longer the best candidate.

When it comes to games like these, you can't really swing a Heisman race one way or the other. The yards are essentially empty, so throwing for an efficient 169 yards is the same as going for 500 yards and five touchdowns.

As long as Boyd didn't throw six interceptions, he's all good. Even a poor performance could be overshadowed by a big win over a ranked team.

Johnny Manziel completed 15-of-20 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns against South Carolina State. He also had 78 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Those aren't stellar numbers, and yet they didn't stop him from winning the Heisman.

Teddy Bridgewater is probably second in the Heisman race right now, and he torched another FCS team, too. Are 397 yards and four touchdowns against Eastern Kentucky really that much better than Boyd's numbers, when both numbers came against FCS teams?

If you really want to compare the two, you have to look at their Week 1 wins.

Boyd put up 270 pass yards and five total touchdowns against the Georgia Bulldogs, while Bridgewater was lighting up the Ohio Bobcats to the tune of 355 yards passing and five touchdowns. It was a signature win for the Tigers, while Louisville was coasting past a MAC team.

When you try to think of Heisman moments, you don't look to a player's performance against a non-BCS school. You look to any of Boyd's five touchdowns against Georgia and his tremendous game management.

That's the kind of game where Heisman Trophies are won and lost.