Clemson vs. NC State Prediction: Can the offense do enough to hold off the Pack?
|Friday, September 24, 2021, 12:00 PM- -|
Can Clemson’s offense get back on track? Will special teams finally play a big role? Will Clemson keep its winning streak over NC State alive? Can the defense keep the Wolfpack out of the endzone? We will find out the answers to all of that Saturday when the Tigers travel to Raleigh for a bout against NC State in Carter-Finley Stadium.
Considering some of the things that have happened between the teams in the past – the targeting against Wayne Gallman, Kelly Bryant’s hand towels and Bradley Chubb, Dave Doeren getting furious over laptops – this one will probably be chippy from the start. Especially because the Wolfies smell blood in the water.
For the first time in a long time, the Tigers enter an ACC contest with some trepidation.
NO. 9/7 CLEMSON (2-1, 1-0 ACC) at NC STATE (2-1, 0-0 ACC)
WHEN: SATURDAY, SEPT. 25, 3:30 P.M. ET
WHERE: CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM, RALEIGH, N.C
TELEVISION: ESPN (Mark Jones, Robert Griffin III, Quint Kessenich)
RADIO: Clemson Athletic Network (Don Munson, Reggie Merriweather)
RADIO: Compass Media Network (Gregg Daniels, Tiki Barber)
SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 85, XM 85, Internet 85
CLEMSON/NC STATE SERIES HISTORY
OVERALL: Clemson leads series, 59-28-1
HOME: Clemson leads series, 29-11-1
ROAD: Clemson leads series, 22-16
NEUTRAL: Clemson leads series, 8-1
LAST MEETING: Nov. 9, 2019 (55-10, W)
STREAK: Clemson, Won 8
*Last week's victory was the 142nd in the head coaching career of Dabo Swinney. This week, Swinney will attempt to earn his 143rd career win to pass former in-state rival Steve Spurrier for sole possession of the sixth-most wins through the first 15 years of a coaching career in FBS history. Of note, Swinney is only in his 14th season (including an interim season in 2008).
*Saturday's game will resume the Textile Bowl rivalry between Clemson and NC State, which was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to 2020 (when the ACC did not place NC State on Clemson's pandemic-adjusted schedule), the Tigers and Wolfpack had played each other every season since 1971. Clemson holds a 59-28-1 lead in the all-time series against NC State, including a 22-16 lead in road games. Clemson's success against NC State has been particularly pronounced in recent years, as Clemson has won 15 of the last 16 games in the series.
*Clemson is attempting to improve to 60-28-1 all-time against NC State. NC State would become the third program against which Clemson has won 60 games all-time (South Carolina, 71; Wake Forest, 68).
*Clemson is attempting to earn a ninth straight victory against NC State and its 16th in a 17-game span in the series. Clemson’s current eight-game winning streak is already the longest in the all-time series between the two schools.
*Swinney is attempting to improve to 32-2 all-time against teams from the state of North Carolina. It would be his 25th consecutive win against a North Carolina-based team, as his active 24-game streak dates to 2012.
*Clemson is attempting to defeat an ACC Atlantic Division opponent for an 18th straight time and for the 38th time in its last 39 opportunities. Those figures include games against traditional Atlantic opponents in a divisionless season in 2020. –
*Clemson is attempting to improve to 28-2 in its last 30 true road games.
*Clemson is attempting to hold four consecutive offenses out of the end zone for the fourth time since 1950. Clemson posted four-game streaks with no offensive touchdowns allowed in 1959 (Games 4-7), 1981 (Games 2-5) and 1989-90 (Games 10-12, Game 1).
*Clemson is attempting to not allow an offensive touchdown in all of the first four games of a season for the first time since 1928, when then head coach Josh Cody's Tigers shut out Newberry, Davidson, Auburn and NC State entirely in the season's first four contests. Clemson opened that year, which was its first wearing orange jerseys, by not allowing a point in any of its first six games.
*Clemson attempting to hold an opponent to 10 or fewer points for the sixth time in seven games, dating to last season.
*Clemson is attempting to hold a fourth straight opponent to 10 or fewer points for the first time since 2000 against The Citadel, Missouri, Wake Forest and Virginia.
FIVE THINGS WE WANT TO SEE
*Offense. Offense. Offense. Clemson’s offense has been stuck in neutral for much of the 2021 season, and managed just 14 points against Georgia Tech last week. The Clemson coaches talked about the structure of the Tech defense – dropping eight defenders in coverage – and you would expect that the Wolfpack would do the same. There is also a part of me that wonders if the Pack coaches will dare quarterback DJ Uiagalelei to beat them with his arm. Instead of stopping the pass, they go the other direction and pack the box and dare the Tigers to beat them thru the air. No matter which defense is seen, however, Clemson has to adjust and score.
*Explosive plays. I’ve written a few times this week that the Tigers are one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to explosive plays – plays that cover 10 yards or more. In fact, Clemson has just one play of 40 or more yards through three games, and that was in the opener against Georgia. At some point, there has to be an explosive play, right?
*Better play by the offensive line. Matt Bockhorst was adamant this week that the play of the offensive line is better than people think, and Swinney told the media that the offense doesn’t stink. But when you watch a replay and see guys knocked backwards – or down – on three or four plays in a row, you realize something is amiss. Perhaps the coaches will put the onus on the line early against State and try to run the football.
*The defense keeping NC State out of the endzone would be neat to see. I am just not sure that is going to happen – NC State has several experienced players, they will have the home crowd, and will be facing a Clemson defense that will be without defensive tackle Tyler Davis.
*Something special happen on special teams. BT Potter hasn’t been asked to make big kick since the opener, and Will Taylor had a 51-yard punt return against SC State. Punter Will Spiers has been his usual solid self. But it’s time to see some big plays on special teams, whether that is Potter helping the offense or the Tigers getting a big return in the kicking game.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
This feels like a statement game. NC State senses that Clemson is vulnerable for the first time in a decade, and they will bring everything they’ve got to this contest. I think NC State will score early on a big play, and Clemson will play from behind. The statement that is made will be one of two things – the offense will respond and show the king is alive and well, or we learn that this will be a longer offensive rebuild than we thought. This one will be close. Very close. And earlier in the week, I had decided I didn’t see the offense doing enough to win. But the reports out of practice this week have been positive – perhaps the best I’ve heard all season – and while there will still be warts, the offense does just enough.
FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 23, NC STATE 20
More TigerNet picks
Mickey Plyler - The Roar 105.5 morning show host - 27-13 Clemson
Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 17-7 Clemson
Brandon Rink - Associate editor - 24-17 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate editor - 24-9 Clemson
Zachary Wagner - Intern - 24-3 Clemson
Jake Pierce - Recruiting reporter - Clemson 28-17
Pigskin Prophet - 24-16 Clemson
Ryan Kantor - Contributing Writer - Clemson 24-6
|Game||Actual||David Hood||Plyler||Nikki Hood||Rink||Crumpton||Wagner||Pierce||Prophet||Kantor|
|Georgia||10-3 UGA||27-20 CU||27-23 CU||24-17 CU||27-23 CU||28-24 CU||28-17 CU||31-20 CU||23-17 CU||-|
|SC State||49-3 CU||55-3 CU||54-0 CU||56-7 CU||61-7 CU||49-7 CU||55-10 CU||45-0 CU||45-0 CU||-|
|GT||14-8 CU||41-13 CU||51-10 CU||45-10 CU||45-13 CU||38-7 CU||45-7 CU||38-13 CU||48-10 CU||31-3 CU|
* Points: 3 pts for best correct prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 2 pts for picking score exactly, 1 pt for picking the correct winner