Clemson vs. NC State Prediction: Tigers are a Homecoming guest for the Pack


by - Senior Writer -
Clemson travels to Raleigh this weekend as a Homecoming guest.
Clemson travels to Raleigh this weekend as a Homecoming guest.

The Textile Bowl on a chilly Homecoming Night in Raleigh. Welcome to Clemson vs. NC State.

No. 5 Clemson travels to Raleigh to take on an NC State team fighting for bowl eligibility. The Wolfpack have been racked by injuries this season and are 32-point underdogs in their own stadium on Homecoming.

GULP.

Depending on the results of an earlier contest (Wake Forest at Virginia Tech), the game could present an opportunity for Clemson to clinch a berth in the ACC Championship Game. A Clemson victory preceded by a Wake Forest loss to Virginia Tech would clinch the ACC Atlantic crown for Clemson for the fifth consecutive season.

NO. 5 CLEMSON (9-0, 6-0 ACC) at NC STATE (4-4, 1-3 ACC)

WHEN: SATURDAY, NOV. 9, 7:30 P.M. ET

WHERE: CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM (57,600), RALEIGH, N.C.

TELEVISION: ABC (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor)

RADIO: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, C.J. Spiller, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)

**Sirius XM 81**

RADIO: Touchdown Radio (Brett Dolan, Charles Arbuckle)

NOTABLE

*Clemson will seek its 10th win of the season this week to push its streak of consecutive 10-win seasons to nine, which would tie the 2001-09 Texas Longhorns for the third-longest active streak in major college football history.

*Clemson is one of only two teams averaging more than 250 yards per game both rushing and passing. At 273.0 passing yards per game and 272.4 rushing yards per game, Clemson is less than a full yard per game away from perfect run/pass balance in terms of average yards per game.

*With 48 career rushing touchdowns, Travis Etienne now trails only Pitt's James Conner (52), Louisville's Lamar Jackson (50) and NC State's Ted Brown (49) for the most career rushing touchdowns in ACC history.

*Clemson has won seven straight, and 14 of the last 15, in the series. The Pack’s lone win in that stretch was a 37-13 home win over the #7 Tigers in 2011.

*Two members of the Tigers’ coaching staff coached at NC State earlier in their careers. Robbie Caldwell was with the Wolfpack from 1986-99, coaching the offensive line and serving as assistant head coach. Mike Reed coached the Wolfpack DBs from 2007-12.

WHEN NC STATE HAS THE BALL

Expect the Wolfpack to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Tigers’ Saturday night. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has said that the Pack like to open the playbook and throw out trick play after trick play (they ran two flea-flickers in the first quarter last week against Wake) and with nothing to lose against Clemson, you can expect the tricks to be out in full force.

When redshirt freshman Devin Leary got the start at quarterback against Wake Forest, he was the third Wolfpack player to start at that position in the first eight games of 2019. It marks the first time in school history that three different QBs made their first career starts in a single season for the Wolfpack.

He didn’t help and the Pack are struggling to make plays anywhere on the field. Prior to the Syracuse game, NC State was averaging just 1.6 explosive passing plays per game (20+ yards). Against ‘Cuse and Boston College, however, the Pack upped that average to 6.0 explosive passes per game. Last week against Wake Forest, QB Devin Leary completed just one pass of more than 20 yards. Emeka Emezie is the big receiving threat (with 39 catches) but is averaging just 10 yards per reception.

Freshman running back Zonovan Knight is the leading rusher but has just 389 yards on the season.

Starting a freshman quarterback on a team with offensive line issues against Brent Venables? Not the greatest recipe for success.

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL

Interesting stat: NC State ranks eighth in the FBS in sacks this season (fourth in the ACC), with 28. Another interesting stat: 16 of those 28 sacks came against the porous offensive lines of Syracuse and Florida State.

Junior linebacker Louis Acceus is one to watch - Acceus ranks second on the team in tackles with 50 for the season. He has tallied 28 stops in the past three games and is a key cog in the Packs’ 3-3-5 defense, which is designed to stop the run.

The Pack have started six different players at cornerback this season but might get starter Nick McCloud back against the Tigers.

IF NC State can stop the running game and get pressure on Lawrence, they have a chance at having success early against the Tigers. But the issues at corner will open the running lanes and the Clemson offense will do what it does, which is pile up yards and points in a big hurry.

It also doesn’t help that running back Travis Etienne is playing his best ball of the season - Etienne reached 1,000 rushing yards on the 2019 season in Clemson's ninth game despite averaging 13.7 carries per game through the team's first nine contests. In reaching the 1,000-yard mark in that game against Wofford, he tied the mark for the fastest any Clemson player has rushed for 1,000 yards in a season and became only the second Clemson player to reach 1,000 rushing yards in single-digit games.

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS

Raise your hand if you’ve heard his before – the opposing punter is really good. At the beginning of August, Trenton Gill was a walk-on who had never punted in a game. Now just a few months later, he's a candidate for the award from the nation's top punter. Gill has been a bright spot for the Wolfpack in 2019, as he currently ranks second in the ACC and sixth nationally with a 47.1 yards per punt average. That mark would be a Wolfpack record if the season ended today.

Placekicker Christopher Dunn is up for the Lou Groza Award – he’s leading the ACC in field goals with two per game – the No. 3 mark in the FBS. He’s 15-for-18 on the season.

Clemson, as we know, has been a bit of mess at placekicker and the punting has been average.

ADVANTAGE: NC STATE

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

The Wolfpack are too young, too hurt, and don’t have enough talent to hang in this one. Sure, they can come out with some new wrinkles and maybe show some life on defense, but it won’t last. This Clemson team is playing its best football of the season right now, and it won’t take long for things to get in gear. Once the Tigers get rolling, they won’t be stopped.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 47, NC STATE 10

STAFF PICKS

Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 51-14 Clemson

Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 42-10 Clemson

Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 49-12 Clemson

Brandon Rink - Staff writer 52-6 Clemson

Pigskin Prophet - 52-13 Clemson

Game Actual David Hood Mickey Plyler Tony Crumpton Nikki Hood Brandon Rink Pigskin Prophet
Georgia Tech 52-14 CU 44-13 CU 52-17 CU 45-13 CU 42-17 CU 48-13 CU 47-9 CU
Texas A&M 24-10 CU 41-27 CU 37-20 CU 38-24 CU 38-27 CU 45-27 CU 31-23 CU
Syracuse 41-6 CU 40-16 CU 41-17 CU 42-13 CU 42-17 CU 45-13 CU 37-13 CU
Charlotte 52-10 CU 44-13 CU 59-10 CU 49-10 CU 42-17 CU 55-13 CU 49-10 CU
UNC 21-20 CU 45-13 CU 52-17 CU 38-13 CU 47-10 CU 45-10 CU 48-13 CU
Florida State 45-14 CU 41-14 CU 42-20 CU 45-17 CU 52-17 CU 41-17 CU 45-14 CU
Louisville 45-10 CU 45-17 CU 52-20 CU 38-14 CU 56-20 CU 48-17 CU 47-21 CU
BC 59-7 CU 49-14 CU 45-14 CU 45-13 CU 49-7 CU 48-14 CU 51-10 CU
Wofford 59-14 CU 56-7 CU 52-14 CU 55-7 CU 59-7 CU 55-10 CU 65-7 CU
Points - 11 13 15 11 9 18

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 2 pts for picking score exactly, 1 pt for picking the correct winner

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