Home » Blog » No. 8 Clemson Upends No. 5 Georgia, 38-35

No. 8 Clemson Upends No. 5 Georgia, 38-35

Tajh Boyd impressed, Aaron Murray did not.

Tajh Boyd impressed, Aaron Murray did not.

Given their penchant for coming up small in big games—or Clemsoning, if you will—outside of Death Valley hopes for the Tigers in their season opening against Georgia weren’t sky high. They may have knocked off the mighty LSU Tigers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season, but they went into the game on Saturday as two point underdogs in their home stadium.

Undeterred by their underdog status—and perhaps even fueled by it—on this night, the Tigers proved the Bulldogs’ bark worse than their bite. Clemson’s dramatic 38-35 was not secured until Georgia’s failure to recover an onside kick with just over a minute to go in the 4th quarter, but for a game with such a close score, somehow it didn’t feel that close.

At least not from an outsider perspective. Of course, those with serious rooting interests in the game are likely to disagree with that assessment.

And disagreeing would be completely fair, because there’s nothing that stands out particularly in the stats or the final score that suggests Clemson easily dominated Georgia. In fact, the Bulldogs out-passed, out-rushed and out-gained the Tigers in total yards and 1st downs. They also dominated the time of possession, 32:18 to 27:42.

However, Georgia took more penalties, coughed up more turnovers, and converted on fewer 3rd downs. But it was really the divergent paths taken by each quarterback that really separated these two teams.

For the third straight year, Georgia’s Aaron Murray began the season as one of the handful of players in college football generating legit Heisman buzz. While Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has been largely overlooked for that particular honor, but he certainly made a strong case for himself last night—stronger than his opponent, that’s for sure.

Murray was moderately efficient going 20-for-29 and completing 69 percent of his passes for 323 yards, but he failed to throw for a touchdown. However, he did throw an interception and was responsible for one of three Georgia fumbles on the night—the only one that wasn’t recovered.

On the other hand, Boyd went 18-for-30 on the night, completing just 60 percent of his passes. The difference being that his were quality passes and his ability to play mistake free football. Boyd threw for 270 yards, with three touchdowns and no turnovers. He looked poised and confident in the pocket, while demonstrating his ability to scramble for positive net yards when plays broke down.

Boyd’s play was reminiscent of Pittsburgh Steelers starter Ben Roethlisberger, who is well-known for his versatility and ability to improvise on broken plays. Big Ben may have a few inches on Boyd, but at 6-1, 225, this kid is definitely built to absorb a few extra hits.

His performance against Georgia not only helped buoy Clemson over the first of three major obstacles in pursuit of their first championship since 1981, it also helped lay to rest what had been the major concern about his performance over the last two years.

As the Tigers starter, Boyd went 0-3 in his first three games against ranked teams from the SEC. He completed just 45 percent of his passes, for an average of 113 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. But he’s won the last two contests, completing 68 percent of his passes, for an average of 308 yards, with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Boyd didn’t just win the game against Georgia, he proved he can win the game, which had been a major question mark until now. If one set of questions about Clemson were answered last night, another set about Georgia and their starting QB were raised.

The Tigers should cruise straight through to their big date with Florida Sate in mid-October and if they clear that hurdle, that in-state rivalry game against South Carolina to close out the season could get even nastier than usual.

[Click here for Clemson’s full schedule]

The Bulldogs have a much more tougher row to hoe in the SEC East. They have to face South Carolina next week, and you can bet superstar defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is going to be looking to redeem himself after an underwhelming performance against North Carolina in their season opener.

[Click here for Georgia’s full schedule]

After that they’ve got a bye week and then North Texas, before running the gauntlet, facing five SEC teams in six weeks—including LSU, Florida and those scrappy Vanderbilt Commodores. It’s certainly not impossible for this talented team to run the table, but they’ll need to see a lot more out of Aaron Murray.

One thing is for sure—with one game in the books for both Clemson and Georgia, the trajectory of each team seems to be heading in decidedly different directions.

At least for now.

  • 100%