Clemson vs NC State Prediction


by - Senior Writer -
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Ahhh. The proverbial “trap game” that Clemson fans fear and dread. This game sets up, in many ways, to mirror the last time the Tigers lost this season, at Maryland: Noon game, on the road [where the Tigers are 1-2 this season], under-manned opponent, and smaller stadium. It is all there for a huge Clemson letdown. However, the Tigers couldn’t smell the ACC Championship Game back in early October, the offense simply wasn’t executing, and the offensive line wasn’t being nearly dominant enough. All of that has changed, and Clemson senior running back C.J. Spiller, who returned for his senior so he could play in that game on Dec. 5th, is making sure his teammates don’t have a letdown.


Clemson at N.C. State


When Clemson Has the Ball

The Clemson offense has scored 38 or more points in four straight games, and gets another struggling defense this week. Quarterback Kyle Parker has completed 61% of his passes in the last four contests, and goes up against an N.C. State defense that has given up an average of 435 yards per game over the last three games. Three of the Wolfpack’s four starting defensive backs are freshman, so look for Clemson to maybe establish the run early, then try and take advantage of the youngsters’ aggressiveness by taking shots down the field. If Parker gets time and Spiller gets enough room to run between the tackles, the Clemson offense could make it five straight with 38 or more points. Spiller has accumulated over 600 total yards in Clemson’s previous two ACC games, and might have another big day against the Wolfpack.

ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON



When N.C. State Has the Ball

Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson leads the ACC in touchdown passes with 24, but also has nine interceptions after throwing three last week. Wilson is usually a very accurate passer, and there would be two concerns in how Clemson matches up, the first being can Clemson cover the backs out of the backfield and tight end George Bryan [who has 35 catches already]. The Seminoles had tons of success last week in throwing underneath the coverage to the backs, and Bryan is definitely a threat, so how Clemson’s linebackers play could help determine how much success the Tigers have against Wilson. Also, teams have been spreading the field with three and four receivers, and then running on the Tigers’ 4-2-5 defense. If Clemson gets ahead early and forces N.C. State to play catch-up, then it plays into the Tigers’ hands. If Wilson has time and they have success with the underneath routes and running on the nickel, the Wolfpack could make this interesting.. In the end, however, Clemson’s defense excels at stopping good quarterbacks…


ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON



Special Teams

Clemson’s special teams had been sizzling heading into the Florida St. game, but took a step backward last week with three missed extra points, two missed field goals, and missed on hitting a big play in the return game. Hopefully, the problems were just a fluke and the Tigers get back to normal this week. Florida St. kicked to Spiller last week, but was able to contain him. N.C. State is last in the league in kickoff coverage, and Wolfpack head coach may want to trust his defense to force Parker into mistakes. Look for somebody on Clemson’s side to get the special teams back on track by hitting a big play – just hope it doesn’t come down to a late field goal for the win.


ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON

Coaching

It seems like Pack head coach Tom O’Brien head coach had Clemson’s number, but he is just 2-2 against the Tigers [two wins coming as head coach of Boston College], and he has really taken it on the chin as head man of N.C. State. The Pack were picked by many to be a contender for the ACC Atlantic title, but they have suffered 13 season-ending injuries and fell off the map early. However, O’Brien is an old-school coach, and typically his teams don’t beat themselves. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney seemingly has the Tigers believing they can win out, and the coaching performance since that dreaded game at Maryland has been markedly better. Whether that is because the play-calling is better or the players are finally executing is debatable, but this coaching staff has risen to the occasion in the drive for Tampa.

ADVANTAGE – EVEN

BOTTOM LINE

The Tigers are the better football team. But they have been the better football team and lost, and need this win to keep their hopes for a December visit to Tampa alive. In talking to the Tiger players and coaches this week, they know exactly what they have to gain, and they know exactly what they have to lose. Clemson made a ton of mistakes against Florida St. last week, but being able to exert their will in the fourth quarter was a huge difference from Clemson teams in the past. N.C. State has the offense, are playing at home, pretty much have nothing to lose, and could keep it close for a while, but then the depth chart will start to show through and the Tigers pull away in the second half.


THE PICK

CLEMSON 37, N.C. STATE 22

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