Clemson vs. NC State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Tigers and Wolfpack on Saturday in Clemson, SC.
Clemson vs. NC State Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 15 – Noon ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
TV Broadcast: ABC
The Tigers (6-0, 3-0 ACC) are coming off of a complete performance in a win over Boston College last Friday night. Dabo Swinney’s squad avoided a letdown following its big win over Louisville and beat the Eagles by 46 points behind Deshaun Watson’s 266 yards and four touchdowns. The Tigers extended their conference winning streak to 12 games and their road winning streak to eight, which matches a school record set from 1978-79.
Meanwhile, the Wolfpack (4-1, 1-0) weathered the storm (pun very much intended) and outlasted Notre Dame, 10-3, last Saturday in a game that really should not have been played due to the poor conditions caused by Hurricane Matthew. The Wolfpack used special teams and defense to win on a waterlogged field. Dexter Wright returned a blocked punt for the go-ahead touchdown with 12:43 remaining, while Dave Doeren’s squad held the Fighting Irish to just 113 total yards on 64 offensive plays.
In last year’s game in Raleigh, Tigers star quarterback Watson accounted for six touchdowns in a 56-41 win. Clemson finished with 623 yards against an NC State defense that ranked third nationally and was allowing just 251 yards per game. Clemson is 55-28-1 all-time against the Wolfpack.
What To Know About Clemson
The Tigers recorded three plays of at least 50 yards in the first quarter against BC, two of which went for touchdowns and another that set up a score. Offensively, it’s a team that’s in sync and looking like the 2015 outfit that made life difficult for opposing defenses. Defensively, tackle Christian Wilkins had another sack against the Eagles and will continue to be a mismatch because of his versatility all across the line. Brent Venables is overseeing a unit that ranks No. 9 in the FBS in total defense at 282.2 yards per contest.
What to Know About NC State
The Wolfpack offense had been potent all season before the Notre Dame game, but it’s a performance that really should be thrown out the window because of the awful playing conditions. Doeren’s team had scored at least 30 points against every other opponent coming into the game, and Boise State transfer Ryan Finley was completing over 72 percent of his passes. It’s a very balanced offense, and the defense is allowing just 17.6 points per game. This is a dangerous team that very well could be 5-0.
Offense: Clemson. Both units are strong, but the edge goes to the Tigers because of Watson. He’s a difference-maker.
Defense: Clemson. NC State has a really solid unit, ranking No. 12 in the FBS in third-down defense at just 28.2 percent. But the Tigers are a more dominant bunch.
Special Teams: Clemson. Ray-Ray McCloud lines up all over the field on offense, and he is also an X-Factor as a return man.
Coaching: Clemson. Doeren had a breakthrough win last week against Notre Dame, but Swinney has his Tigers primed for a second consecutive College Football Playoff berth.
Intangibles: Even. Clemson is playing its best football of the season, but NC State has momentum and doesn’t have anything to lose going on the road against the best in the ACC. Doeren will have his team believing it can win.
Matchup To Watch
Matt Dayes vs. Clemson defensive front
Dayes has averaged at least 5.1 yards per carry in each game thus far, and he accounted for 126 of the team’s 157 rushing yards against Notre Dame. He’ll be going up against a Clemson rush defense that ranks No. 33 in the country at 133.2 yards per contest. If Dayes can be productive on some of the early downs and give Finley manageable third-down situations, that will make things much easier for the Wolfpack on offense against an athletic Tigers front. Keep in mind that the ‘Pack played the second half of last year’s game against Clemson without Dayes after he suffered a toe injury. And they badly missed him.
Spread: Clemson -17
Over/Under: None as of post
Clemson vs. NC State Prediction
The Wolfpack will be able to stick around with the Tigers after leading them 20-19 last year before the game started to slip away. It’s an early start, so both teams could be a little sleepy. NC State will play sound for three quarters, but a big special teams play and too much offensive firepower will allow the Tigers to pull away in the fourth.
Clemson vs. NC State Score Prediction: Clemson 36, NC State 24