Thursday night (7:30pm ET) ACC action kicks off week 4 of the 2013 college football season with the 3rd ranked Clemson Tigers (2-0) traveling to Raleigh, NC to take on the Wolfpack of North Carolina State (2-0). Clemson earned its lofty early season ranking with a week 1 win over a top five Georgia team at home by a 38-35 score, and followed that up with a 52-13 rout over South Carolina State on September 7. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd set an ACC record with 8 total TDs, and passed for 426 yards (of 726 yards of total offense) the last time these two teams met in November 2012 in a 62-48 win for the Tigers.
The Wolfpack put up 597 yards of total offense in that game, but they do not return star QB Mike Glennon and remain unproven on offense this season. NC State has played exclusively at home this season, coming off of a 23-21 win over Richmond, an FCS school, in their last game September 7. NC State fell behind 21-10 in the first half of that, had to rally in the second half for a close win and allowed 300 yards passing against a team that they should have put away early. They opened the season with a 40-14 win over Louisiana Tech. The Wolfpack is a relatively inexperienced team under first year Head Coach Dave Doeren, with 11 freshman that see significant playing time. They committed 4 turnovers and had 10 penalties in the win over Richmond, those mistakes will need to be minimized if they are going to have any success against the 3rd ranked team in the nation.
Something will have to give in this game as NC State is a tough team to play at home, while the Tigers have been strong on the road with Boyd under center. Last season the Clemson senior QB threw for 16 TDs with 5 INTs while going 3-1 on the road, picking up 10.2 yards per throw while posting a 184.7 passer rating – both #1 in the nation.
Clemson vs. NC State Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Clemson Tigers -14
@NC State Wolfpack +14
Over 66 (-110)
Under 66 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Clemson vs. NC State Pick
The last time they visited Raleigh the Tigers suffered a 37-13 upset at Carter-Finley Stadium in 2011 when they were ranked No. 7 in the country. The Wolfpack also upset then-third ranked Florida State 17-16 at home last season. Clemson has a reputation under Head Coach Dabo Swinney of “Clemsoning”, or losing to an opponent they have no business losing to. The last Clemson – NC State meeting in Raleigh fits this definition to a T as the Tigers turned the ball over 4 times and were on the wrong side of a 27-0 NC state second quarter run.
That will not happen in this game however, as these Tigers are experienced, the 2011 team had 42 freshman among 85 scholarship players and had not yet learned to put away inferior opponents. Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who had 6 receptions for 127 yards in the opening win over Georgia, appear to be on a mission this season. Clemson also has also improved its ball security since the 2011 meeting, in the last 15 games the Tigers have just one 4 turnover and one 3 turnover games, both easy victories (a 56-20 win over Duke and a 45-10 win over Maryland). In contrast, NC State has shown that they are an inexperienced and turnover prone team this season. The Wolfpack were barely able to hang on against an inferior FCS team in Richmond at home and are still learning a new system under a first-year coach. All of these factors foreshadow a relatively easy Clemson win in this one. Take the Tigers to cover 14 points.