Clemson defeated Boston College 36-14 Saturday to remain perfect. But 78,000 fans left Memorial Stadium wondering what they had lost.
As fans dispersed to the surrounding parking lots to leave for home or loiter at post-game tailgate parties, quarterback Tajh Boyd arrived at the Oconee Medical Center in Seneca for an MRI on his left hip. Like Clemson fans, coach Dabo Swinney said he was "praying for positive news."
He got it.
Both the MRI and X-ray images taken of Boyd's left hip were negative, fortunate considering the twisting and hyper-extension that resulted from Boston College defensive end Max Holloway diving into Boyd's left leg after a third-quarter pass.
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The contortion appeared to have the potential to cripple what is shaping up to be a potentially special season as No. 8 Clemson is 6-0 for the ninth time in school history and 3-0 in ACC play.
But Boyd avoided a worst-case scenario and is listed as questionable for next weekend's game at Maryland.
Boyd's father, Tim Boyd, told the Post and Courier his son "should be fine for next week."
How quickly Boyd heals figures to be the story of the coming week. Winning at night at Maryland might not be easy with a true freshman quarterback in Cole Stoudt - who completed six of 10 passes for 37 yards in relief of Boyd - and some of the tougher games remaining on Clemson's schedule round out the month: hosting North Carolina on Oct. 22 and then traveling to undefeated Georgia Tech on Oct. 29.
Swinney said before the season that depth was his greatest concern, and quarterback depth is particularly thin.
"(Boyd) was walking much better in the locker room after the game," Swinney said. "It might just be a deep bruise."
Boyd is on pace to break numerous school passing records and was headed toward his third 300-yard game before the injury.
Boyd's 15 touchdown passes are the sixth most in school history for a single season and the sophomore has thrown just two interceptions.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris said Boyd was on pace for a career day as the sophomore quarterback aggressively attacked the Boston College secondary, completing five of seven passes of 20 yards or more to help Clemson to a 23-7 halftime lead.
Boyd completed 16 of 26 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown.
After Boyd exited the game, a pallor afflicted those on the sidelines and in the stands.
"There was a lull," Swinney said. "We definitely had a staleness there for a spurt, but they responded."
If Matt Ryan and B.J. Raji were still at Boston College (1-5, 0-3), perhaps the game could have come in doubt, but the Clemson defense limited a second straight opponent to 258 yards of offense.
Boston College did not score after Bobby Swigert caught a 24-yard scoring pass from Chase Rettig to cut the Clemson lead to 26-14 in the third quarter.
"There were a lot of good things in terms of progress we are making," defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said.
While the Clemson defense stepped up, so did the running game.
Andre Ellington rushed for a 35-yard touchdown to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Ellington's hamstring looked healthy as he rushed 22 times for 117 yards.
Right tackle Landon Walker said the team did not become scared when Boyd was injured.
Said Walker: "Every now and then (the line) knows we have to put the game on our backs."