The Clemson Tigers are the talk of the national media, the Sugar Bowl, and the University of South Carolina, but there’s still one game that remains before rivalry week and the bowl talk can begin. The Tigers need to focus on a pesky N.C. State team that is capable of beating anyone on a given week, including the ACC’s top team in Florida State.
Clemson is the better team and should win handily, but can the Tigers avoid the letdown that everyone around the country has been awaiting and expecting and finish out its conference schedule strong, clinching a part of the ACC Atlantic title for the second straight year?
N.C. STATE AT NO. 11 CLEMSON
WHY N.C. STATE MIGHT WIN: Although N.C. State is just 6-4 this season, it is still a very dangerous team playing for bowl seeding and possibly Tom O’Brien’s career. Senior quarterback Mike Glennon is heralded as one of the top passers in the ACC as he has thrown for 291 yards per game with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His two top receiving targets are Quintin Payton and Bryan Underwood. Payton has caught 42 passes for 669 yards and one touchdown while Underwood has 40 receptions for 588 yards and 10 touchdowns. Offense won’t be the issue on Saturday as the taller task for the Wolfpack will be stopping- or at a minimum slowing down- Clemson’s offense. N.C. State has the players to do it with David Amerson and C.J. Wilson manning the secondary. State’s defense has accounted for 11 interceptions this season with four of those being from Amerson. The key for the defense will be getting pressure on Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and forcing him into quick throws and mistakes on his reads- which the Wolfpack successfully did in 2011 holding the Tigers to 13 points and forcing four turnovers.
WHY CLEMSON MIGHT WIN: Another week and another opponent gets the opportunity to step up to the challenge of slowing down Clemson’s high-octane offense that is averaging over 42 points per game and over 513 yards per game of total offense. On the road, the Wolfpack are allowing 148 yards on the ground, 343 yards through the air, and opponents are averaging 33-percent on third down. The key stat is the third down conversion because the Tigers have been one of the best in the country on third downs averaging over 53-percent. Also, Wolfpack opponents have scored touchdowns 10 times on 19 trips in the redzone- another advantage for the Tigers who have scored 17 touchdowns in 24 trips while at home. The Clemson defense will have its hands full with Glennon and the N.C. State receivers, but if Garry Peters, Bashaud Breeland and company can be physical off the line of scrimmage and get the Wolfpack offense out of rhythm it could be a long day for the boys in red and white. When Glennon gets out of synch, his receivers start dropping passes and the offense stagnates.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: The Wolfpack totally embarrassed Clemson a year ago at Carter-Finley Stadium and this current group of Tigers hasn’t forgotten that feeling or the game. The Tigers are 5-0 in redemption games- or games where the opposing team beat them the previous year- and I expect the Tigers to continue this streak against N.C. State. Glennon has a strong arm and is accurate when his receivers hold on to the ball, but the Clemson secondary has shown that they have improved throughout the course of the season. There will of course be one or two “what was he thinking” plays for Clemson, but the Tiger defense will continue playing sound football and it will be business as usual for the Clemson offense.
FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 42- N.C. STATE 23
Post written by Clemson Girl's Sports Bloggess, Nikki Steele.