CFB Analyst: Week 1 Line “Disrespectful to Clemson” and “A Compliment to Georgia”

On Barrett Sallee's “College Football Smothered and Covered” podcast, the nationally known college football analyst weighed in on some of Week 1's game lines, including Clemson vs. Georgia.

The Tigers and Bulldogs will face off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, August 31, and Clemson is currently a 12.5-point underdog.

Sallee believes “it's the right line,” although he expects Clemson to win the ACC Championship this season and be the No. 3 seed in the inaugural 12-team College Football Playoff.

“That’s disrespectful. That's crazy. And yet it is the right line. That’s how big the gap has become between Georgia and Clemson,” Sallee said. “Is this an indictment of Clemson? Yes. Is it more of a compliment to Georgia? Yes, I think it's more of a compliment to Georgia. We don't know what Clemson will be.

“Look, I have Clemson as the No. 3 seed in my College Football Playoff just because someone has to win the ACC, and that might as well be Clemson. That doesn't count towards this record, it doesn't change the fact that I still expect Clemson to win the ACC. How will they win this game? You have to run the ball. We know Mafah can do it, but he lacks the supporting cast. I don't know what Cade Klubnik can be. Will he be the guy who can dunk and drink? Because that's really all he was last year. Yes, he’s more than just a willing runner, but not Johnny Manziel or anything like that.”

Sallee said he's high on Clemson's offensive line and other pieces on both sides of the ball, but he's clearly not sold on Klubnik, and Sallee sees the Bulldogs treating the game against the Tigers “like a heavyweight fighter.”

“What was it last year, was it Cade Klubnik or was it Garrett Riley? I think at some point you have to kind of accept that it was the quarterback and not the coach,” Sallee said. “Because we know what the coach can do. Led TCU to the national championship game a few years ago. Garrett Riley did that. And Dabo Swinney gave him the reins and said, “Dude, do your thing.” Maybe he just can't do it. Maybe he just can't do it.

“Now I love their offensive line and the skill set on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. But how will they fare in this game? We know how Georgia deals with these games. It's like a heavyweight fighter. They just dance around early, maybe even get into a deficit early, just let things happen to them, and in the third quarter they just smother you and the game is over. I think that’s how it will be, or at least Georgia will deal with it.”

Sallee concluded that the big point spread was both “disrespectful to Clemson” and “a compliment to Georgia.”

“It’s absolutely both. Absolutely both,” he said. “In recent years, Clemson has had the benefit of the doubt, mostly because of the defense – I know we're talking about the offense and Trevor and Deshaun and all that stuff – especially because of the defense.” They regenerate defensive linemen after defensive linemen, and that ultimately helped them achieve the success they had in 2016 and 2018. They didn't succeed. Is that happening this year? Not as much as those years, and so they're going to rely heavily on offense and I just don't buy that. And then Georgia is just an absolute monster. We know what Georgia is.”

Clemson will look to get its first win over Georgia since 2013 in a clash of regional rivals that have won four of the last eight national championships. In the 17 installments of the series since 1980, the winner of this competition has won the national championship three times.

The Tigers (9-4, 4-4 ACC in 2023) are looking to return to the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2020 after making six straight playoff appearances from 2015-2020. The Bulldogs (13-1, 8-1 SEC in 2023) won back-to-back national titles in 2021 and 2022 before missing the playoffs last season.

A limited number of autographed footballs from Clemson's 2022 class remain available. Get your copy while stocks last! Visit Clemson Variety & Frame or buy online!

Anna Harden

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