On ESPN’s College Football Live: Schedule Breakdown Special, ESPN college football analysts David Pollack and Joey Galloway weighed in on the significance of the marquee Week 1 showdown featuring Clemson and Georgia in Charlotte on Sept. 4.
The Tigers are ranked No. 2 in the Coaches Poll that was released earlier this week, while the Bulldogs check in at No. 5. Clemson is seeking its seventh straight College Football Playoff appearance, while UGA hopes to make the playoff for the first time since 2017.
Citing the respective schedules for Clemson and UGA, Pollack believes the season opener between the Tigers and Bulldogs is a bit more important for the latter.
“If you look at it from Georgia’s perspective, I think it’s the season,” Pollack said. “Your mulligan’s gone if you lose Week 1 to Clemson. You know your schedule’s going to be extremely tough, you know you’re rated really highly. But JT Daniels and this offense are going to come out blazing Week 1 because if you lose this game, you’re telling me you’re going to run the rest of the schedule, beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game or whoever you face? It’s going to be a very tough task.
“Clemson? I don’t see a loss on their schedule regardless. If you can find me one, find me one. But I think for Georgia, it’s a little bit more significant.”
Galloway agreed, adding that if the Tigers can get past the Dawgs, they can run the table the rest of the way with quarterback DJ Uiagalelei at the helm, though he wants to see more athleticism from Clemson defensively.
“When you look at Clemson’s situation, they need to get more athletic on the defensive side of the football,” he said. “Trevor Lawrence is gone, obviously, but DJ steps into the position. We’ve seen him play before, we know he’s talented. So, Clemson is in a position that if they win this game, you’re right – they don’t have another loss on that schedule unless they just slip up somewhere along the way.
“Georgia needs to get off to a good start. Everyone believes Georgia’s a very talented football team all the way around with JT Daniels. Getting off to a great start, going 1-0 against a Clemson team could mean a lot to their season getting going in the right direction.”
Galloway was asked whether a loss would be more detrimental to Clemson or UGA.
“A loss would probably hurt Clemson more because then they won’t have a signature win to get later on if they need one,” he said. “Now, in the past seasons they haven’t really needed one. The ACC hasn’t been very good. They just haven’t needed that signature win. But if things fall into place and a lot of teams go undefeated … Say the Pac-12 produces an undefeated conference champ, the Big 12 maybe does the same, the Big Ten does the same, then for Clemson, you need a signature win. If they beat Georgia, they have one.”
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