Who has the edge? Lawrence has not seen a better player than Travis Etienne

Who has the edge? Lawrence has not seen a better player than Travis Etienne

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Who has the edge? Lawrence has not seen a better player than Travis Etienne

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No. 1 Clemson at Georgia Tech

Right now, Las Vegas has Trevor Lawrence as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year, with Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Alabama’s Mack Jones second and third. And though Lawrence is flattered to be the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at the moment, he says he is not even the best player on his own team.

“I just want to win, but if that comes along with it, I would be super honored and I would be grateful for it,” Lawrence said. “It would be really cool for myself and Clemson, but if Travis keeps playing the way he is playing, he will have a shot.”

Travis Etienne has a good shot, especially after he recorded 222 all-purpose yards and scoring two touchdowns in Clemson’s victory over Miami last week.

It marked the second week in a row the Clemson running back went off on an opponent. He had 187 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns against Virginia two weeks ago.

Each week it feels like Etienne is breaking a new record or has an opportunity to break one. The latest he is approaching is the ACC’s all-time rushing record. The two-time ACC Player of the Year needs 173 yards to break Ted Brown’s record, which he set at NC State from 1975-’78.

“I have not seen a better player in college football, personally,” Lawrence said. “That is all I will say. Whether he wins it or not, the guy is unbelievable. You just turn on a game and watch what he can do on every play, it is unbelievable.

“But we are going to keep working and getting better.

Etienne heads into today’s game at Georgia Tech second in the national in All-Purpose yards (681), while averaging 170.3 yards per game.

Jahmyr Gibbs vs. the Clemson defense: Outside of Travis Etienne, you can argue Gibbs might be the most complete back in the ACC. He is averaging 171.7 all-purpose yards per game, including 232 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Despite Jordan Mason being out of the lineup for the last three games, Georgia Tech has not seen a drop off at the running back position, thanks to Gibbs. In just three games, Gibbs has rushed for 232 yards (5.0 avg.), caught eight passes for 146 yards (18.2 avg.), returned five kicks for 137 yards (27.4 avg.) and scored five touchdowns (three receiving, two rushing). However, Clemson is second in the ACC in rushing defense, allowing 88.8 yards per game. Teams are averaging 2.5 yards per carry. Last week, the Tigers held Miami to 89 rushing yards.

Clemson’s defensive line vs. Georgia Tech’s offensive line: Saturday’s contest offers one matchup of contrasting strengths. Clemson enters the game tied for second in the country with 18 sacks this season, while Georgia Tech ranks tied for seventh in the nation in sacks allowed (two). Clemson faced a similar challenge a week earlier, as the Tigers faced a Miami squad that had allowed only three sacks through three games and then racked up two sacks in Miami’s first seven plays and three sacks in the first 16 minutes of play en route to a five-sack performance in the win.

Travis Etienne vs. Georgia Tech’s defense. Tech likes to play a 4-2-5 defense, which means they take a linebacker off the field and had an extra defensive back. Last year, Etienne rushed for 205 yards against the Yellow Jackets, including a 90-yard touchdown run, the longest in Clemson history. Though much improved this year, the Yellow Jackets are allowing 189.3 rushing yards per game.

Bottom Line: The Clemson-Georgia Tech game has had some memorable moments for sure, but this year that should not be the case. The Tigers have won five straight in the series, and though Tech is getting better under second-year head coach Geoff Collins, it still does not have all the players in place to compete with Clemson for four straight quarters. Though the Yellow Jackets will play hard and they will have their moments on Saturday, in the end the Tigers will have too much firepower. Look for Clemson to pull away and earn its third straight win in Atlanta for the first time in the rivalry’s history.

Score prediction: Clemson 45, Georgia Tech 14

–Clemson and Georgia Tech Athletic Communications departments contributed to this story

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