Boyd can tie Rodney Williams

CLEMSON - Tajh Boyd realizes the long-term significance of Friday night's Orange Bowl matchup with Ohio State.

According to Boyd, and just about everyone else who keeps a close eye on the game, the Buckeyes are among college football royalty. While some disagree, Boyd believes Clemson is close to making its own place at the throne.

What better way to help convince those who think otherwise than with a win in Sun Life Stadium?

"I think we've taken strides into becoming that elite program," Boyd said, before the Tigers left home for Miami. "The Ohio States, the Michigans, Southern Cals, Stanfords, regardless of the situation those guys are playing at elite levels at all times.

"So, when you play against those teams, when you matchup against those teams, it kind of lets you know where you are as a program. Not necessarily as a team…looking at it from a fan [perspective], looking at it from the outside, I feel like we are making steps towards moving to that area."

For Clemson to make a serious argument, the defense needed to narrow the gap between from the offense, particularly after that 70-point display by West Virginia a couple of seasons ago.

Under the direction of second-year defensive coordinator Brent Venables, the Tigers' defense is second in the country in three-and-outs, forcing 6.2 per game. They're also first in the country with 112 tackles for loss.

"They're a really prideful group," Boyd said of the Clemson defense. "All of those guys are hard-workers. They're passionate about what they do. Just proud of them, the way they prepared this season.

"It hasn't been easy for them. They've been ridiculed the past few years, pushed to the side. They've performed. That's all you can ask for out of your teammates. They give it everything they have.

"That's the biggest thing for me in this game, playing for those guys, because I know how much they've put into this program."

Boyd has done his fair share for the Clemson program.

A starter in 39-straight games, 31 of which have resulted in a win for the Tigers, Boyd needs one-more victory to tie Rodney Williams as the winningest starting quarterback in school history.

It's been a good run with No. 10 calling the signals.

"I don't think I have too much time to [think] on it," Boyd said. "I've got a pretty busy schedule after the season. I'm going to make sure I make the most out of this one."

As for what's next -- the Senior Bowl, pre-combine training, the combine and pre-draft workouts -- there's no need to worry about Boyd looking ahead to all of that stuff.

"You've got to just let it go," he said. "It can't be a distraction, but you've got to have good people around you. They can take the load off of you."

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