Kirk Herbstreit, during a media conference call via Zoom to preview this Saturday’s matchup between No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Georgia in the Duke’s Mayo Classic (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC), discussed a potential scenario that he believes makes it a must-win game for the Tigers and would give Clemson fans “anxiousness” about the game.
There are some who think that regardless of the outcome, both Clemson and Georgia could end up making the College Football Playoff. However, Herbstreit doesn’t necessarily see it that way.
“For people that look at this game and think, ‘Well, it’s early in the year, you can lose this game and recover’ – all true,” Herbstreit said. “The only thing I would throw out there is a reminder that both these teams have a pretty good chance, no matter what the result is, of winning a lot of games. Potentially, a lot of people are predicting both these teams to get into the top four or be right around the top four. And especially I say this for Clemson, because they don’t have a lot of top-five opponents coming up after they play Georgia – they’ve got maybe one or two, but not a lot – you lose this game, if you’re Clemson, and then you win out and you win the ACC, and let’s just say for argument’s sake, Georgia wins the (SEC) East and they go to Atlanta and they lose a close one to Alabama.
“Now we’re starting to look at the (College Football Playoff) committee, and one of the words that they use is ‘cluster.’ They look at a cluster of teams. How do they separate clusters within this committee? They either look at conference champion, they look at head-to-head, things like that, and strength of schedule. But head-to-head would apply to the Clemson-Georgia matchup. So if you’re Clemson, and you lose this game, it puts you on the backburner in my view based on what the committee’s done in recent years, and I think that would give Clemson fans a little bit of anxiousness about this game.”
That’s why Herbstreit believes it’s critical for Clemson to leave Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte with a W on Saturday night.
“They need to win this game,” he said. “Even though it’s Week 1, you do not want to get caught up in a cluster against Georgia and have the committee say, ‘Well, they lost to these guys early in the year, so we’re going to give Georgia the advantage.’ They don’t always do that, but more often than not, that’s what they fall back on.”
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