Clemson vs. NC State prediction: Can the Pack upset Tigers?

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Clemson and NC State kick off a little after noon
Clemson and NC State kick off a little after noon


It’s a special time at Clemson. The floats are built on Bowman, former players come back and reminisce about past glories, the alumni band takes the field, and it’s a chance for those who have ties to the school to come back and see the changes that have been and are being made on campus.

Oh, and there’s a football game to be played.

Clemson and NC State tangle for the 85th time in series history this weekend in a noon kickoff. A lot of people might have overlooked this game, but the truth is that the winner is in the driver’s seat in the ACC Atlantic Division and controls their destiny.

Remember the days when this game was called the Textile Bowl?

Overall, Clemson has a 55-28-1 lead in the series against NC State, including a 24-11 lead in games at Clemson, a 21-11 lead in games in Death Valley. Clemson has won the last four games of the series and 11 of the last 12. The Tigers have won the last six games in Memorial Stadium, including 2014 by a 41-0 score, Clemson’s largest victory margin in the history of the series. *The series dates to 1899 when Clemson was victorious 24-0 in a game played in Rock Hill, SC. That was just the fourth year of Clemson football and the 16th game in the school’s history. Nine of the last 19 games have been decided by eight points or less, including 2010 when Clemson won 14-13 in Death Valley against the Pack and quarterback Russell Wilson.


WHEN: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2016, 12:06 Kickoff
WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C. (81,750) Clemson Homecoming
TV: ABC (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay)
CLEMSON RADIO NETWORK: (Don Munson, Rodney Williams, Michael Palmer)


The Pack offense is beginning to find its rhythm. Underrated running back Matthew Dayes leads the rushing attack with 563 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Jaylen Samuels leads N.C. State with 21 catches and four touchdowns receiving, while Stephen Louis leads the Wolfpack with 328 receiving yards. However, it’s quarterback Ryan Finley who runs the show, and he’s done a good job of doing just that so far this season. Finley transferred in from Boise St. Finley is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes (89-128, 69.5%) for 1,041 yards and ten touchdowns with no interceptions. The offensive line has done a good job of protecting the quarterback – they’ve only allowed five sacks all season. The Pack likes to hit you with Dayes and then go with play-action and open the passing lanes for Finley.

Clemson’s defense is also finding a rhythm and is ranked ninth nationally in giving up just 282.2 yards per game. The only offense that has really given the defense trouble was Louisville, and that was because some kid named Lamar Jackson is a one-of-a-kind talent. NC State doesn’t have that kind of player. But they can dink and dunk the ball down the field, and the tight end seems to always play a part in these games. But the State offense hasn’t faced a defense like they’ll see Saturday. ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON.


In last year's 56-41 victory at N.C. State, Clemson had scoring plays of 24, 57, 42, 40, 35, and 36 yards. After just one 40-yard play in the first five games of the season, the Tigers had three plays longer than 40 yards in the first quarter of last week's 56-10 victory over Boston College and the Eagles' top-ranked defense. Running back Wayne Gallman scored on a 59-yard run, receiver Mike Williams had a 50-yard reception and tight end Jordan Leggett had a 56-yard touchdown catch in an eight-minute span of the first quarter. Sophomore wide receiver Deon Cain has emerged as a true scoring threat. Cain has only 13 receptions, which is fourth-best on the team, but six have resulted in touchdowns, including two scores in each of the past two games. He also had a 40-yard touchdown reception at N.C. State last season. NC State’s defense has experience and talent, and it starts with defensive end Bradley Chubb. Chubb has 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks and can be disruptive off the edge, and the edge is where the Tigers have struggled at times.

Safety Josh Jones leads the Pack with 42 total tackles, while linebacker Airius Moore has chipped in 30. State’s defense is ranked eighth nationally, but once again, they play a pitiful non-conference schedule and haven’t really been tested. Notre Dame could have been a test, but last week’s game was played in inclement conditions, and there really isn’t a takeaway from that game. ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON


The Wolfpack got their only touchdown against the Irish on safety Dexter Wright's return of a blocked punt. Kick returner Nyheim Hines hasn’t found a lot of room to run this season and punt returns have been a non-issue. Punter A.J. Cole has been excellent so far this season, averaging 46.7 yards per punt on 14 punts, good for ninth nationally. Kickoffs have been shared by Kyle Bambard (21) and Jackson Maples (11), and they each have three touchbacks, so the Tigers might be able to find success on a return. Bambard is 4-of-5 on field goals and 19-of-21 on extra points. For Clemson, the punt return game has gotten better, but Ray-Ray McCloud dropped a punt inside the 20 last week against Boston College and had another gaffe earlier this season against Troy. Artavis Scott has given the Tigers a spark at kickoff return, and the kickoff coverage and punt coverage teams have been excellent. ADVANTAGE: SLIGHT TO CLEMSON


This looks like it might be Dave Doeren’s best football team, and he has them playing with confidence. They are certainly capable of escaping Death Valley with a win, but they would need a lot of help from the Tigers in terms of miscues and turnovers. This NC State team is good, just not great, and it looks like it’s gonna take a great team to knock off the Tigers at this point. Heck, Clemson turned it over five times against Louisville and still came away with the home win. NC State can make this one interesting for a while, but they simply don’t have the playmakers on offense to outscore Clemson. The Tigers pull away for what seems like an easier win than it will be.



Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 41-17 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 42-20 Clemson
Nikki Steele - Staff writer - 56-24 Clemson
Lawton Swann - 6-8 PM on Fox Sports Radio 1400 and iHeart Radio - 40-17 Clemson
Scott Cole - 12-3 PM on WCCP 105.5FM - 63-17 Clemson
Tom Meares - Staff writer - 52-10 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 42-20 Clemson

GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerTony CrumptonNikki SteeleLawton SwannScott ColeTom MearesPigskin Prophet
Auburn19-13 CU37-20 CU31-17 CU31-21 CU35-24 CU38-17 CU31-17 CU38-13 CU44-17 CU
Troy30-24 CU47-13 CU41-17 CU44-10 CU51-17 CU 45-14 CU35-13 CU55-10 CU55-13 CU
SCST59-0 CU52-10 CU48-0 CU45-10 CU49-3 CU52-10 CU56-10 CU48-10 CU55-13 CU
GT26-7 CU28-17 CU34-24 CU31-21 CU31-17 CU34-22 CU31-17 CU38-24 CU27-24 CU
LOU42-36 CU31-27 CU31-30 CU27-24 CU35-30 CU38-34 CU27-24 CU41-38 CU34-27 CU
BC56-10 CU30-14 CU31-14 CU35-21 CU38-10 CU34-10 CU31-9 CU38-13 CU27-9 CU
Points - 8116861186

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

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