Big stage awaits Tigers, Boyd

CLEMSON - The Rubber Match in the Georgia Dome is just a few days away, and Tajh Boyd couldn't be more excited.



"We all woke up with the same mentality Monday -- I woke up smiling," he said. "It's game week."

Boyd and his teammates are ready to finally compete against someone who doesn't play for Clemson. That's all they've done since returning to school in January.

"We've been playing against each other forever, the whole summer, spring and everything," he said. "We're just ready to put this to work and put a test to it. I'm excited about this game Saturday."

Boyd was a redshirt freshman when Clemson and Auburn came together for the first showdown in the three games in three years series. Then, he was a redshirt freshman backing up second-year starter Kyle Parker.

The setting of that game was bigger than anything Boyd had experienced during his football career.

"Things change every year. My redshirt freshman year, I wasn't accustomed to an environment like that," he said.

Boyd looks forward to the national stage that Clemson and Auburn will take for the third-time in as many years.

"As you get older, you love environments like that," he said. "You thrive in situations and venues of that nature. For us, starting off in the Georgia Dome, it's just an exciting game for us.

"This is a big opener for us and this program."

"This is a big opener for us and this program."

The last time Clemson was on a national stage, things didn't go very swimmingly. West Virginia won, 70-33.

"People only judge us off of our last game," he said. "That's just the sour truth to hit. For us, it's just about going out here and continuing to prove ourselves, continuing to work."

And, quite frankly, he's ready to stop hearing about it.

"The game was, what, nine months ago? People still talk about it like it was yesterday," Boyd said. "For us, we've got a big game coming up Saturday. I'm just excited for it."

The second-year starting quarterback also has a little something to prove.

Last season, Boyd started off with a bang. Including a 386-yard and four touchdown performance in the win over Auburn, he threw for 2,379 yards with 24 touchdowns and three interceptions in the first eight games of 2011.

Things fizzled out down the stretch as he threw for 1,449 yards with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions over the final six contests.

Saturday marks another opportunity for Boyd and the Tigers to prove they're more like the team from the first half of 2011.

What better stage than this one?

"A lot of people don't get to play on a stage like this, especially this early on. For us, we look at it as a challenge and look at it as the part of the way we can keep growing as a team," Boyd said.

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