Tigers Overlooking Wolfpack?

by - Correspondent -
Travis Zachery, recovering from an ankle sprain suffered last week at Duke, should be back in the starting lineup this weekend.

CLEMSON -- Coming off yet another runaway victory, sitting smugly at No. 5 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls and returning to Death Valley Saturday after a two-week absence, is it possible Clemson could be overlooking upstart N.C. State?

Not if you listen to Tommy Bowden.

The Tigers' coach was adamant Thursday evening that his team has nothing but respect for the Wolfpack and new coach, Chuck Amato.

"The team has beaten you two years in a row, they have a hot freshman quarterback (Phillip Rivers) and they're 4-0," Bowden said following Thursday's practice. "That helps keep your attention, no doubt about it."

If Clemson has been the media darling of the Atlantic Coast Conference to this point of the season, N.C. State has been its biggest surprise.

Amato's team has made a habit of dramatic, come-from-behind victories so far this season, including a 30-23 overtime thriller at Georgia Tech two weeks ago. Rivers has been unflappable through the early going, even in the face of an all-out pass rush employed by the Yellow Jackets.

His cool under fire, uncommon in most freshmen, has sparked a similar confidence in his teammates. The result has been a slow climb from obscurity to the brink of the rankings ‹ The Wolfpack is ranked No. 26 in this week's coaches poll, and No. 28 in the AP rankings.

But Clemson still is listed at a 21 1/2 point favorite over the 'Pack, and received good news Thursday when running back Travis Zachery, defensive tackle Jason Holloman and offensive guard Jermyn Chester all practiced and were listed as probable for Saturday's game.

Zachery, recovering from an ankle sprain suffered last week at Duke, should be back in the starting lineup this weekend, as should Holloman (ankle).

Chester, two weeks removed from arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right knee, could see playing time behind Will Merrit at the guard slot.

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