BOZICH | Clemson (2017) bigger than Florida State (2016) for Louisville football
Bigger deal for Louisville football: College GameDay visit for the Florida State game last season or the trip here this Saturday for the Clemson game?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A string of programs have been one-and-one with College GameDay. Temple, Bowling Green, Florida A&M, Kentucky, Indiana and 23 others have been gaga about hosting the ESPN spectacle once.
When Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Rece Davis and the gang arrive this weekend, Louisville will jump onto a list with Iowa, Kansas State, Washington, Georgia Tech, Arizona, Baylor, Northwestern, Boston College, West Virginia, North Dakota State and Pittsburgh as two-time hosts.
Three or more, obviously, is a more exclusive club. The leader, as Baker Mayfield can tell you, is Ohio State, a 16-time host.
Next question: Which ESPN visit should be considered a bigger deal for U of L football – the initial GameDay hysteria that preceded the 2016 Florida State game or Saturday’s Encore as Clemson comes to town?
It’s 2017 – although I encourage you to vote in my poll.
Here are Five Reasons Why.
1. Clemson is College Football’s King
By Saturday, Clemson will be 44 weeks (308) days removed from its last defeat. (Take 308 bonus points if you remember the last team to beat the Tigers. No, it was not Florida State.)
The Tigers have won seven straight. They’re the defending national champions. They’re ranked second in the latest polls, drawing a pair of first-place votes from the writers as well as the coaches.
I hope Deion Sanders and Bobby Bowden excuse me because my intent is not to disparage Florida State. But the Seminoles came to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium last season after going 10-3 in 2015. They were without their best defensive player. They were good. They were not special.
The Cards had already experienced beating FSU. They have never experienced beating Clemson – or the defending national champion.
(For the record, Pitt beat Clemson, 43-42, last Nov. 12.)
2. Prime Time Primacy
That Florida State game started at noon. That’s a great kickoff for newspaper guys on deadline, but it’s not so hot for cooking up a huge national TV audience.
The only games with any national juice programmed against Clemson-Louisville Saturday night are Colorado State at Alabama; Louisiana State at Mississippi State and Texas at Southern Cal (on WDRB at 8:30 p.m., thank you very much).
Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, Tigers’ coach Dabo Swinney, Lamar Jackson and Bobby Petrino will have America’s complete attention – and an entire day to tailgate might flavor the atmosphere at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
3. Lamar Jackson’s Pursuit of Archie Griffin
June, July and August were packed with the unrelenting debate about unlikeliness of Lamar Jackson winning another Heisman.
Was he being disrespected?
Had he earned a spot in the second row after his string of late-season fumbles?
Who was that anonymous ACC coach who told Sports Illustrated that Jackson had “no” chance to play quarterback in the NFL?
Then the games began and Jackson surged to the top of the national list in total offense without a true Heisman moment, like the Syracuse leap or Florida State spin move. Ordinary Lamar has been 40 yards per game better than the mortals chasing him.
If Spectacular Lamar shows up Saturday night and takes down Clemson, his push to become the first back-to-back Heisman winner since Archie Griffin delivered at Ohio State in 1974 -75 becomes a national story. He’s right there with anybody you want to nominate.
4. Atlantic Division Primacy
The winner of this game becomes the team to beat in the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division, especially if the winner is Clemson.
Florida State was supposed to be that team but projections about the Seminoles slipped out of focus after quarterback Deondre Francois’ season ended with a knee injury that required surgery after Week One.
Even if the Seminoles rally behind their freshman quarterback, FSU plays Clemson in Death Valley Nov. 11. Louisville must travel to Tallahassee, where the Cards lost by 20 points two years ago, on Oct. 21.
The winner controls its future. The loser better start researching tiebreaker rules.
5. Once Is Not Enough
Please return to my introduction. Making College GameDay the first time is an unforgettable memory. Making it back to College GameDay is not guaranteed. Louisville made it back one year after the program’s first appearance. That’s not a fluke. That’s a milestone.
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