After losing to Alabama in the national championship last year, No. 2 Clemson hopes to win it all this season. If the Tigers are successful in that endeavor, they will have overcome several tough tests, including a road game at Auburn this Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.
“I think Auburn will be a stiff test, but Clemson is just too loaded at too many positions,” Fox Sports college play-by-play broadcaster Tim Brando said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “That offense is capable of scoring 50+ every time out. They really are. Deshaun is the best player in college football.”
That Deshaun, of course, is Deshaun Watson, who last year threw for 4,104 yards, ran for 1,105 and accounted for 47 touchdowns (45 pass, 12 rush). He finished third in the Heisman race to Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey, who finished first and second, respectively.
“McCaffrey should have won the Heisman a year ago,” Brando said. “He didn’t because the Pac-12 Championship didn’t matter, it was on opposite the ACC Championship, and Derrick Henry had a big game on the same night that Fournette threw up a really horrible game running against stacked defenses with eight men in the box at Alabama. It all turned on that night. McCaffrey deserved it, Watson probably should have been second and Henry third. The reality is the best player on the best team that wins it all is likely to win it. I think Deshaun will win it this year. I think Clemson is really legit, and I think they’re going to (beat Auburn). The issues at quarterback for Auburn are troublesome to me. (John) Franklin probably is the guy they’ll ultimately have at quarterback, but he’s not going to start this game at quarterback, and to me, that’s an issue. I think Clemson is going to win the game and probably win it convincingly.”
Fournette and LSU, meanwhile, also lost to Alabama last season and also hope to avenge that loss this season. The Tigers open against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
“It’s not so much about winning the first game as much as it is winning the expectations of everyone in college football that believes that LSU is a national contender,” Brando said. “They are far superior athletically than Wisconsin. Wisconsin is still a top-tier team in the Big Ten. They are. But LSU has got 18 of 22 guys returning. They have a new defensive coordinator, who, by the way, came from Wisconsin in Dave Aranda. They’ve gone to the 3-4 defense. Their linebackers and safeties are, I think, really, really good, and this new defensive philosophy is going to help them. I think they’re going to really shut down Wisconsin big time. And LSU has a chance, I believe, to show the country that they are now more than just a let’s-play-between-the-hashmarks type of team, that Leonard Fournette is not just what we’re all about, that Brandon Harris is a quarterback (who has been given) the keys to the car and he’s able to put them in the ignition and (use) every gear. I’ve got LSU beating Alabama at the end of the year, being in the final four of the College Football Playoff and winning against Wisconsin.”