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BCS player to watch: Tajh Boyd

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Tajh Boyd is looking for one more celebratory moment in his college career.In the final game of his record-setting career, Tajh Boyd will face Ohio State in the Discover Orange Bowl. Boyd currently holds the ACC career records for passing touchdowns (102) and touchdowns responsible for (127). He ranks second behind NC State’s Philip Rivers (13,484) in passing yardage. He is 31-8 as a starter and has led Clemson to three straight 10-win seasons for the first time since 1990.

Tajh Boyd Passing - Career

In the Orange Bowl, Boyd is a player to watch not only because it is the final game of his storied career, but also because he could put up big numbers against an Ohio State defense that has struggled to stop the pass.

Ohio State’s pass defense ranked 102nd in the FBS entering bowl season, allowing 259.5 yards per game. Each of Ohio State’s past three opponents have thrown for at least 300 yards, combining for nine touchdowns and one interception.

The Buckeyes have been especially vulnerable against the deep ball. In conference games, opponents completed 39 percent of their passes thrown 20 yards or longer against Ohio State, seven percentage points higher than the Big Ten average. Connor Cook completed 3-of-5 such passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Big Ten Championship.

Boyd leads all quarterbacks from BCS automatic-qualifying conferences in completion percentage on throws of 20 yards or longer and has thrown 14 touchdowns and two interceptions on such passes. Since the start of last season, Boyd’s 29 touchdowns on 20-yard throws are seven more than any other BCS-AQ quarterback.

Sammy Watkins is another reason that Boyd may have a big game. Watkins has 1,237 receiving yards and is averaging 14.6 yards per reception this season. He leads all AQ receivers with 836 yards after the catch and 30 receptions with at least 10 yards after the catch.

Most Yards After the Catch
AQ Receivers

Ohio State has allowed the most yards after the catch in the Big Ten (1,875), and 10 different teams have gained at least 100 yards after the catch against the Buckeyes.

Look for Boyd to target Watkins on screen passes; the Buckeyes are allowing a Big Ten-worst 7.5 yards per reception on screens.

The mixture of downfield efficiency and yards after the catch have led to big passing plays against Ohio State, particularly late in the season. In their past four games, the Buckeyes have allowed 7.8 completions per game of 15 yards or longer.

That would have been the worst average in the FBS if sustained over an entire season. Boyd is averaging 6.8 completions of 15 yards or longer this season, and only Fresno State’s Derek Carr (280) has more total 15-yard completions than Boyd (263) over the past three seasons.

Boyd is looking to become the fourth different quarterback to throw for 300 yards against the Buckeyes this season. In the previous seven seasons combined, Ohio State allowed just three 300-yard passers. If Boyd can reach the 300-yard mark, it will give him 18 for his career, tying Philip Rivers for the most such games in ACC history.

There is one more record that Boyd can set in the Orange Bowl. With a win against Ohio State, Boyd will have 32 wins as a starting quarterback. That would tie the Clemson record set by Rodney Williams from 1985 to 1988.