In the first half of tonight’s game, it certainly looked as if the recipe was beginning to come together for one of the biggest upsets of the young season so far. The Clemson Tigers led the NC State Wolfpack just 13-7, and the Tigers team–as a whole–just didn’t look as if it was clicking on any cylinders whatsoever, while NC State seemed as if they came in completely upset-minded.
Then, the second half started and NC State met the Clemson team we were waiting to see–and also the ever-so scrutinized ACC referees at one point.
Clemson did turn it on a little bit in the second half to walk out of Carter-Finley Stadium with a 26-14 victory, while at the same time avoiding an early letdown as they hang on to that no. 3 ranking and possible championship hopes.
QB Tajh Boyd finished the game 24-of-37 for 244 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. It certainly wasn’t the senior’s best performance in his career as he was pressured a lot in this game, especially early on, which led to a lot of breakdowns in the passing game.
The good news out of the passing game, however, was a solid performance from WR Martavis Bryant, whom this team has been waiting for to emerge as a threat. Bryant hauled in six catches for 73 yards and two scores–the second of which was a good display of how he can use that 6-5 frame to get up and get the ball in the corner of the end zone.
Of all the good that Clemson showed in the second half, though, there was one particular moment early in the third quarter that proved to be a huge momentum swing in this game and–surprise–it involved the ACC officials.
With a little over seven minutes left in the third quarter and his team within six points (still down just 13-7), NC State wide receiver Bryan Underwood took a sweep down the right sideline for what appeared to be an 83-yard rushing touchdown, giving the ‘Pack an eventual 14-13 lead.
Well, the officiating crew initially ruled that at one point during the run, Underwood had stepped out of bounds, even though every replay imaginable that ESPN showed proved otherwise. The ball was brought back, NC State eventually turned the ball over, resulting in a Clemson TD that sucked the life out of everyone in Raleigh and pushed the Tigers to victory.
Clemson moves to 3-0 on the season as they look ahead to welcoming a very underwhelming Wake Forest team into Death Valley next week. The Wolfpack are now 2-1, with a date against Central Michigan at home next Saturday.