ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit held a conference call with reporters from around the country Wednesday to discuss the 2017 season.
Here are some highlights from the former Ohio State and Centerville High School quarterback:
1. “I’m fired up to get the season started, probably like you are,” he said when asked about the first game he will broadcast this season: Ohio State at Indiana on Aug. 31.
ESPN GameDay will be in Bloomington for a Thursday night affair.
Herbstreit pointed out a team of the caliber of the Buckeyes, who are No. 2 in the preseason Associated Press poll, going on the road in conference at night to start the year is rare, and he sees Indiana as a team that thinks it can finally get over the hump to compete in the Big Ten East.
3. Two days after watching the Buckeyes take on the Hoosiers, Herbstreit will be in Atlanta to see No. 1 Alabama take on No. 3 Florida State.
He compared that to a national championship game in September, though he predicts both will still make the College Football Playoff.
He looks for Alabama sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts to be improved as a passer and praised FSU sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois for the toughness he displayed last year behind a shaky Seminoles offensive line.
4. Penn State lost the best receiver from the 2016 Big Ten champions (Chris Godwin), but opposing defenses will still have to decide how to stop Saquon Barkley, described by Herbstreit as the best running back in the country.
They will still be susceptible to giving up the big play if they choose to load the box, and he expects offensive coordinator Joe Morehead to come up with some more wrinkles to punish teams for overplaying against Barkley.
He also wonders how good the Nittany Lions pass rush will be.