Herbstreit on if Clemson belongs among the country's elite teams

Kirk Herbstreit came away impressed by Clemson’s performance during its 30-20 win over NC State in Saturday night’s top-10 showdown at Death Valley.

Coming off a 51-45, double-overtime victory at Wake Forest one week earlier,

the Tigers followed that up with a strong all-around showing against the Wolfpack.

Herbstreit believes Dabo Swinney’s team “really made a statement” against NC State after narrowly edging the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem.

“Well, they were, I think, concerned after last week’s game against Wake Forest,” Herbstreit, ESPN’s lead college football analyst, said at the end of ABC’s broadcast of the Clemson-NC State game.

“Like Dabo said, (sideline reporter) Holly (Rowe) mentioned it, it’s great when you can learn from a win. It scares you.

You get their attention, and man, did he get their attention this week.

They played a better team, at least defensively, and really made a statement.”

Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) is in clear control of the ACC’s Atlantic Division after back-to-back wins over two teams some thought could possibly keep the Tigers out of conference title contention for a second straight season.

Clemson certainly looks like the class of the ACC once again. But in the bigger picture going forward,

does Herbstreit think the Tigers belong where they are ranked at No. 5 among the elite teams in the country, like Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State?

ESPN college football commentator Chris Fowler asked Herbstreit that question.

“I think they’re right there, after tonight’s performance, especially with the way (DJ) Uiagalelei’s playing right now,” Herbstreit said.

“I think their offense is different. I think they have great receivers. I really think they’re going to get better actually offensively.

I was concerned about their defense, especially on the perimeter — the corners after the way they played against (Wake Forest quarterback) Sam Hartman.

But man, they stepped up. The defensive line was dominant.

“Absolutely, with the athletic ability they have, if they keep coming together, they’re going to be a tough team to beat –

not just in the ACC, they may have a shot to throw their hat in the ring in the playoff.”

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