Aug 31, 2013; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney (right) and Clemson Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd (10) are rushed by media following the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Tigers won 38-35. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson vs. NC State Preview: Tigers Aim to Stay Near the Top in ACC Opener


Game: Clemson Tigers vs. N.C. State Wolfpack

Date: September 19, 2013

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Location: Carter-Finley Stadium; Raleigh, NC

TV: ESPN

Spread: Clemson -14.5 (via Bovada)

On Thursday evening, the Clemson Tigers will take their no. 3 AP ranking, their Heisman hopeful quarterback and receiver and the rest of their squad into Carter-Finley Stadium on the campus of North Carolina State University to take on the Wolfpack in their first ACC contest of the season.

Last season’s game was a bit of a shootout, while at the same time showcasing how dynamic Clemson QB Tajh Boyd is as the then junior set an ACC-record by accounting for eight touchdowns and 529 yards of total offense. The Tigers won that game at home in Death Valley by a final score of 62-48.

However, the Tigers’ last trip to Carter-Finley was not as gleeful. In 2011, the then seventh-ranked Tigers were rolling on with their season–one that would end with an ACC Championship–before they were brought back down to reality by the Wolfpack and were upset on the road 37-13. This trip back will hopefully exorcise some demons from that loss for Dabo and crew.

Although, a number three ranked team, on the road against N.C. State? Sounds oddly familiar, doesn’t it?

N.C. State is no stranger to crushing the hopes of a team in the top three with national championship aspirations glowing in their eyes. Last year, Florida State took their undefeated record and top three ranking into this stadium–on ESPN during primetime–and walked out with a 17-16 loss. While inconsistent at times the last few seasons, this Wolfpack group seems to know how to flip the switch when the bright national lights are on them.

But, these are two different teams in a different time this season.

Clemson comes into this game having opened up their season with a phenomenal win against Georgia at home, followed by last week’s blowout over South Carolina State. This offense may be as close to being a juggernaut as they’ve had in a long time. Boyd is completing over 60 percent of his throws, and has also added three scores on the ground.

Sammy Watkins is still the big playmaker on the outside, and now he’ll be relied on more than ever with the recent loss of no. 2 wide receiver Charone Peake to an ACL injury for the season. However, Adam Humphries is a decent replacement to have in there for Peake and should still be able to take some of the heat off of Sammy in the passing game.

As for North Carolina State, this game is a good test to see exactly where this program is at in the pecking order of the ACC. They’ve had their struggles to begin the year. In Week 1, their starting QB–Arkansas transfer Brandon Allen–went down with an injury and they had to insert Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas into the fold to run the offense. Last week, against Richmond, they barely made it out with a 23-21 victory.

Yet, again, this N.C. State program has done some amazing things in the past when they’re put into a corner.

Can they do it again on Thursday night?

 

 

 

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