Clemson (9-1) plays host to NC State (6-4) tomorrow in Death Valley. There are a fair share of fans still having nightmares that Clemson could possibly be in a trap game position this week against NC State. In 2011 NC State crushed Clemson 37-13 in a game where the Tigers littered the field with turnovers, mistakes and gave up way too many sacks.
NC State lost to Tennessee by double digits, had their defense cave and lose to Miami at the end of the game 44-37, head coaching blunders and lost to North Carolina and just sat there as Virginia whipped them 33-7. Who have they beat? The Pack beat UConn, South Alabama, Citadel, Florida State, Maryland and Wake Forest. This team has been the model of inconsistency all year. Rumors that head coach Tom O'Brien may be on the very hottest hot seat abound.
This Clemson team won't try to beat the Wolfpack out of revenge rather a more calculated attack. This team is stuck on playing their game and playing their best football in November. There hasn't been a reason yet to doubt this years Clemson Tigers.
This game could start with some sparring and feeling in each other out. It won't be long before the Chad Morris attack gets going and starts scoring. Look for Nuk Hopkins to have another huge day, Tajh Boyd to continue his hot streak and the Clemson defense to continue to improve. This NC State team says "fragile handle with care" all over it. Clemson dominates this game and we head in to rivalry week with the showdown against South Carolina
NC State- 20
North Carolina State is a program that resembles Clemson for much of the 2000's: good enough to pull off some nice wins over ranked opponents, but maddeningly inconsistent to the point you never really know what team you'll see week to week. In Tom O'Brien's six years in Raleigh, the Wolfpack have been just a shade above mediocre (39-34), winning just enough to keep him from getting a pink slip but not really challenging the upper echelon of the ACC. 2012 is no different, as the Pack handed Florida State their only loss of the season, but sits at only 6-4 on the season and has double digit losses to teams like Tennessee and Virginia (combined record of 8-13).
For Clemson, this game will be defined by whether they look past an NC State team that, properly motivated, can give the Tigers some trouble. The pervasive sense around Clemson this week is not one of the Wolfpack being front and center; rather, it's been all about the potentially enormous game with South Carolina on November 24th and a possible BCS bowl game should the Tigers win out. As a result, you have two teams coming into this game that are difficult to assess from a psychological standpoint, and that's always a wild card. Assuming each come ready to play, it's hard to see NC State leaving Death Valley with a victory, as Clemson can simply score more points by applying more pressure over the course of four quarters. However, should one team not be ready to play mentally, it will result in either a Clemson blowout, or a tight, 4th quarter game. I'm betting on the former of these two scenarios.
NC State- 23
Just like a season ago, Clemson comes into the contest versus North Carolina State with a 9-1 record and Top 11 ranking. Clemson players will tell you that going into the game, they lost focus. That lack of focus, and consistent blitzing, helped NC State force 2 second quarter turnovers and 27 points - which doomed the Tigers in Raleigh.
On defense, NC State will once again be blitz heavy, bringing plenty of pressure with mixed blitz packages. This will leave the corners in man-to-man coverage, which will leave them vulnerable to the big play by Watkins, Hopkins and Bryant. This is good news for the Tigers as they have seen this style from Wake, Duke and Virginia Tech in recent weeks. If the Tigers can protect Boyd, it will be a long day for NC State.
The main challenge for the Tigers will be containing the passing attack of Glennon and the Wolfpack. Glennon has thrown 13 interceptions on the season and is not extremely mobile. If the Tigers can put pressure on Glennon and make him uncomfortable, he will make mistakes.
This is not last year’s Clemson Tigers. This year’s team is laser focused each week solely on the task at hand. Clemson will most likely not jump out to a large lead like Duke and Wake forest. And the Wolfpack offense will be a good gauge as to how improved this Tiger defense really is. But in the end, the Wolfpack is still a lesser opponent for the Tigers – and the have not played down to those this season.
NC State- 26