Gene Sapakoff is a columnist and College Sports Editor at The Post and Courier with focus mostly on Clemson, South Carolina, SEC and ACC athletics. But also golf, the Charleston RiverDogs, Atlanta Braves, Carolina Panthers. And food.

Hold up at home waiting for contactless delivery of a large pizza and extra breadsticks? Again?

Back at the office, six feet and a new piece of clear plastic away from that Georgia fan in the next cubicle?

Eager for some college football trivia while hoping for college football itself?

Here goes:

1. Who won the last two ACC Player of the Year awards?

2. Name the other two back-to-back winners of the ACC Player of the Year award over the last 40 years?

3. Has anyone won the ACC Player of the Year award three times?

4. Who is a 30-1 longshot to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy, well behind nine other guys with better odds?


1. Travis Etienne (by a wide margin in 2018 and 2019).

2. Florida State’s Charlie Ward (1992 and 1993) and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (2016 and 2017). Both were Heisman Trophy winners.

3. Not yet (but N.C. State’s David Thompson and Virginia’s Ralph Sampson were three-time ACC basketball Player of the Year winners).

4. Etienne.

The theme is Mr. Travis Etienne Jr. as an overlooked, underrated dynamo already locked into “Greatest ACC Running Backs Ever" arguments. Not bad for a fallback recruiting option Clemson plucked out of Jennings, La., after the Tigers lost out on Memphis high school star Cordarrian Richardson.

Three College Football Playoff appearances, one national title, 4,038 rushing yards, 567 receiving yards and 60 touchdowns later, Etienne has adjusted nicely to a life without as much of his mom’s crawfish etouffee.

But 30-1 Heisman odds for a healthy, committed veteran averaging 7.8 yards per carry?

Crazier than a maskless mosh pit.

Travis Etienne 41.jpg (copy)

Clemson running back Travis Etienne has three College Football Playoff appearances, one national title, 4,038 rushing yards, 567 receiving yards and 60 touchdowns. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Having Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at 4-1 is understandable.

New Oklahoma starting quarterback Spencer Rattler at 12-1 makes wagering sense, for the projected pass attempts and the Hollywood gunslinger name, not necessarily in that order.

But give me some 5-10, 210-pound Louisiana Lightning at 30-1 over Texas’ Sam Ehlinger at 16-1 or Georgia’s Jamie Newman at 20-1.

Definitely over Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at 20-1, or Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book and Miami quarterback D’Eriq King at 25-1. 

‘Stop asking us’

Etienne would have been one of the top running backs picked in the 2020 NFL draft and having him back for a senior season is a bonus in the Clemson tradition of such returnees as C.J. Spiller, Tajh Boyd, Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell.

If there is a full fall season, that is. Or a fall season deliberately or forcibly trimmed to just a conference schedule.

Not that Clemson isn’t good enough to go 6-0 in some kind of shortened spring season. But such dominance would have to unfold while Etienne (with Lawrence and other stars) prepares for the 2021 NFL draft.

Clemson defensive end K.J. Henry’s tweet on Thursday: “On behalf of EVERY FOOTBALL PLAYER IN AMERICA … stop asking us if we having a season we don’t know.”

In any on-field scenario — even reduced to the top 16 teams in America playing an entire several-game season inside a bubble in Canada, where they seem to know more about “crushing the curve” — Etienne is bound to shine all the way to a New York City ceremony.

Actual football season or not, Etienne is ridiculously under-valued. At least outside the Clemson bubble.

But it’s more than possible that Clemson opponents, at least early in the season, gang up against the run knowing that the Tigers lost star wide receivers Tee Higgins (NFL draft) and Justyn Ross (injured).

Etienne, the receiver

Just remember that Etienne (37 receptions in 2019) is Clemson’s leading returning pass-catcher, ahead of Amari Rogers (30), Joseph Ngata (17), Cornell Powell (15) and Will Swinney (12).

Expect fun things from a receiver group likely to feature Frank Ladson Jr. and probably including end zone contributions from 6-4 Canadian freshman Ajou Ajou. But a swing pass to Etienne is a quarterback’s best friend vs. a blitz.

Stacking those defenses against the run? Go ahead, Clemson foes. Note, however, that Ohio State tried that in the Fiesta Bowl last December and held Etienne to a season-low 37 yards rushing — while watching him score three touchdowns, including two on pass plays, in a 29-23 Clemson win.

Deal with Trevor Lawrence’s right arm, nimble feet and information-processing brain. Slug it out with an offensive line that, while mostly rebuilt, includes the likes of new starting right tackle Jordan McFadden, a redshirt sophomore head coach Dabo Swinney insists is “going to be as good as we’ve had here.”

Odds are better than 30-1 that it’s enough to make a Clemson fan socially distance from the betting favorites and book the next uncrowded flight to an uncrowded sports book in Nevada.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff