It’s no real surprise the Clemson football team received a lot of praise from ESPN’s GameDay crew during its preview show Saturday morning.
College football analyst Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit all picked the Tigers to win the Atlantic Coast Conference for a fourth straight year and make the College Football Playoff, while Corso and Herbstreit had Clemson losing in the national championship game.
“Who does not have Clemson in the College Football Playoff, and/or Alabama and Georgia,” Herbstreit said.
Host Rece Davis added, “If you don’t, then you are trying too hard.”
Corso picked a Clemson vs. Wisconsin national championship game with the Tigers losing to the Badgers, while Herbstreit picked Clemson to lose to Alabama in the title game. Howard picked the Tigers to lose to Alabama in the semifinals, and had Michigan winning the national championship.
But the CFP picks were not the only thing the GameDay crew discussed about second-ranked Clemson in the hour-long special.
Herbstreit played off Corso’s pick for a player he is the most excited to watch when the former head coach chose the entire Wisconsin offensive line.
“I will take your Wisconsin offensive line and I will trump you with Clemson’s D-Line,” Herbstreit said. “He went multiple players, so I will just throw Christian Wilkins and those fellows out there. That will be a great battle to watch and let those boys go.”
Corso picked Clemson to beat Miami in the ACC Championship Game this year as he had high praise for defensive linemen Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant.
“That defensive line is the secret. Boy are they tough,” he said.
With all the talk about Clemson’s defense on the show, Herbstreit warned the viewers about another element of the Tigers this year.
“Don’t sleep on that offense either,” he said. “I got Clemson playing Miami. We all agree, and I have Clemson winning (the ACC Championship).”
Davis said the player he is excited to watch this coming season is Clemson freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“Who knows if he eventually beats out Kelly Bryant? Dabo Swinney evoked the names of Deshaun Watson and Cam Newton in terms of just sure talent,” Davis said.
Herbstreit added, “He is a monster too at 6-6 and can throw that ball around.”
Even ESPN producer Chris “The Bear” Fallica picked a Clemson player to win the Heisman Trophy. However, who he picked was a little surprising.
“You know who else is going to have a great year? Clemson,” he said. “Do you know who is going to have a great year from Clemson? Travis Etienne. He is an exciting player. He scored a lot of touchdowns (last year). He might emerge by the end of the year as the sole guy (at running back).”
As for Howard, he made sure he did not make the same mistakes he made last year with his picks. Last year, he picked Miami to win the ACC Championship.
“I said they will beat Clemson in the championship game. Well, that did not happen,” he said smiling. “Those two will play again in the championship game, but now I am going with the Clemson Tigers.”
Clemson beat Miami 38-3 in the ACC Championship Game last season.