Here's why they picked him.
Coming off last weekend's shocking loss to Syracuse, the margin of error for the Clemson Tigers is officially zero for the second half of the season. Clemson can't lose again if it wants to have a chance to defend its national championship in the College Football Playoff.
Other than a cupcake non-conference game against The Citadel, things won't be easy for Clemson over the next five games. The Tigers still have to face Georgia Tech, NC State, Florida State and rival South Carolina.
Who might have to emerge in order for the Tigers to run the table? ESPN thinks it is running back Travis Etienne.
ESPN named Etienne the "x-factor" for Clemson for the rest of the season.
He has just 51 carries in six games played, but Etienne has clearly established himself as one of the country's most explosive runners. The true freshman has four carries of 50 yards or more, scoring six touchdowns and leading the Tigers in rushing yards. The problem, however, is that Etienne is still a work in progress in pass protection, and has had some notable misses in blitz pickup. That makes him a liability in passing situations, giving Clemson's offensive staff a big question to grapple with: explosiveness in the ground game, or consistency in pass protection?
Etienne has scored a touchdown in five of six games he has played in, including a 52-yard dash against Syracuse.
He will probably play a big role moving forward.