ESPN college football analyst Greg McElroy joined The Paul Finebaum Show this week to preview Saturday’s top-five matchup between the third-ranked Tigers and No. 5 Bulldogs in Charlotte.
McElroy said to Finebaum, “Had these two teams played at full strength, I was leaning pretty heavily towards Georgia, to be honest with you, Paul.”
“And it’s not really taking anything away from Clemson, it was really more just very proud of the progress that Georgia’s made,” McElroy added. “However, I don’t think fall camp’s been very kind to the Georgia Bulldogs.
“We know that Arik Gilbert is nowhere to be found, associated with the program. He was supposed to potentially be that matchup nightmare on the perimeter at wide receiver, but he’s not with the team at this moment. George Pickens, his availability’s still a little bit up in the air — No. 1 wide receiver who tore his ACL in April. (Pickens has been ruled out for Saturday’s game). You have a center (Warren Ericson) that’s been a little beat up, and now he’s trying to learn how to snap with the opposite hand, by all accounts. You have a couple of players on the defensive side of the football — (defensive back) Tykee Smith, in particular — that has been a little beat up as well.”
McElroy also said that while he loves Georgia quarterback JT Daniels, he doesn’t know if Daniels is the best quarterback in this matchup.
“I remember watching D.J. Uiagalelei last year and felt like D.J. Uiagalelei against really solid competition performed adequately, that solid competition being Notre Dame,” McElroy said. “He went on the road — yeah, they lost that game — but he threw for over 400. And Travis Etienne, who of course was an All-American candidate himself, he rushed for about 28 yards on 18 carries. So, the run game was a non-factor and yet D.J. gave them a chance.”
With all of that said, along with Clemson’s track record in AP top-five games as compared to Georgia’s, McElroy is leaning toward the Tigers as the team he thinks will come out on top Saturday.
“So, I look at this matchup, and I think right now if I had to pick it, I think Clemson is the team that’s had the better fall camp, is the team that’s healthier at this point, is the team that has a better track record in games like this,” McElroy said. “If you look at AP matchups involving the Georgia Bulldogs, there have been 12 all time — Georgia’s 3-9. Clemson, on the other hand, is 9-6 in AP top-five matchups. So, I’m leaning with the Tigers at this point.”
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