For the last two games the Clemson Tigers have been a turnover machine, giving up 7 after only having 8 in their first 8 games combined. Against Wake Forest, Clemson gave up 3 turnovers while not recording any and if that happens this week in Raleigh the Tigers will lose. North Carolina State enters the game at 5-5 and ranking 9th in the nation and atop the ACC in turnover margin.
We found out against Wake that even teams with little to no previous rushing attack can run on Clemson and the Wolfpack fit that bill, coming in at #111 in rushing yards per game.
The strength, and I use that term lightly, of this N.C. State team is defense, where the Pack ranks 48th in rushing defense and 40th in pass efficiency defense.
It becomes a bit more interesting when you consider that the Tigers will be without left tackle Phillip Price and N.C. State averages 2.7 sacks per game (good for 20th in the nation) and that potentially the Tigers could also be without Sammy Watkins as he recovers from a shoulder strain.
For the second straight week, the question is will the opponent be able to do what Georgia Tech and, to a lesser extent, Wake Forest did against Clemson – control the game and clock and keep the Tiger offense on the sidelines wondering when they will get their chance.
As you’ll see in a post coming up tomorrow Tajh Boyd’s QB efficiency rating is trending down and two of Boyd’s three worst efficiency ratings have come on the road.
The Wolfpack has been better at ball control than Wake so it appears to be a valid question. We also know the Tiger defense has been vulnerable and has struggled to get off the field at certain points in games.
The Pack comes in ranked 100th in total offense, 111th in rushing offense, 64th in passing offense and 83rd in scoring offense.
On the defensive side, the Pack is 39th in total defense, 48th in rushing defense, 40th in passing efficiency defense and 51st in scoring defense.
T.J. Graham is averaging 12.4 yards per punt return so that is an area to keep an eye on after Wake returned one for a touchdown last week on Clemson.
One area that N.C. State does stand out in is interceptions – they lead the nation with 20 as a team and sophomore cornerback David Amerson leads the nation with 10 of those himself. Just something to keep in mind with Tajh Boyd’s struggles in the last two games.
Last week we predicted Wake to score 28 points against Clemson and somehow hit that number right on the head. This week we see a similar scenario playing out – the Clemson defense will give up some points and the Clemson offense struggles for a period of time without Price and Watkins.
In the end Clemson finds a way to win as they have all year and squeaks by on the road at Carter-Finley stadium.
Clemson 34 N.C. State 28