N.C. State will open ACC play with the gold standard of the league - the Clemson Tigers.
The Wolfpack missed out on playing the Tigers a year ago but will welcome them back to Raleigh after Clemson edged Georgia Tech 14-8. The Pack has been near flawless at home, out scoring their two opponents 90-7 in two games. Neither one of those opponents, though, were nowhere nearly as talented as Clemson.
“Now we get to play the best team in our league over my period here at N.C. State,” Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren said. “We need to do what we did last week and in the first week, but against much, much better competition.”
NC State vs Clemson game, TV info
Who: N.C. State (2-1) vs. No. 9 Clemson (2-1)
When: Saturday, Sept. 25, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium
Vegas odds: Clemson vs N.C. State point spread
Clemson is an early 10-point favorite against N.C. State.
Is the N.C. State run defense as good as it appears on paper?
The Wolfpack defense is one of six teams in the country that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season. N.C. State has been stout against the run, but haven’t faced a team that will test them on the ground like Clemson. Running backs Will Shipley and Kobe Pace present enough problems, but the Pack will also have to deal with quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, who is fourth on the team in rushing.
Is Clemson vulnerable for the first time in a while?
The Tigers needed a late goal line stand to stop Georgia Tech last week, and fans didn’t learn a bunch about them during a 49-3 blowout win over South Carolina State. Clemson has won eight in a row over N.C. State and 15 of the last 16. Three of the last four games versus the Tigers at Carter-Finley Stadium have come down to the fourth quarter. It looks like Clemson is still trying to find its identity on offense, but still boast an above average defense.
3 N.C. State players to watch
Daniel Joseph, DL: The Wolfpack defense only has two sacks this season. While they have been doing a good job of pressuring the quarterback, N.C. State will need to get Uiagalelei on the ground. Joseph will have to bring his normal energy and then some to drag down the 6-4, 250-pound quarterback.
Emeka Emezie, WR: Emezie has been the main deep threat for N.C. State so far this season. That’s good because the Wolfpack will need to be able to take shots and take the top off the Clemson defense. Emezie is averaging a team-high 81.5 yards per game. He usually finds a way to slip behind defensive backs for big gains, including a season-long 39-yard catch this season versus South Florida. He had a 39-yard catch against Mississippi State.
Thayer Thomas, WR: If Emezie is there for the long play, Thomas will be responsible for the spectacular one. During his weekly press conference Doeren said his team will need someone to go above and beyond the routine play. The team will need someone to do something special. That sounds perfect for Thomas, who has thrown, caught and returned a punt for scores during his career.
3 Clemson Tigers to watch
Will Shipley, RB: The Tigers’ freshman has earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors in consecutive weeks. Shipley, from Weddington, is coming off career highs in carries (21) and yards (88) versus Georgia Tech. He had two touchdowns in the 14-8 win over the Yellow Jackets. He leads the team in rushing (176) and rushing touchdowns (4) through three games. Shipley also leads Clemson in all-purpose yards with 257.
Justyn Ross, WR: N.C. State had been solid against the run so far this season, holding opponents to just 72.7 yards per game. That means the Wolfpack defense might get a heavy dose of passes to Ross, the 6-4 junior wide receiver. Ross leads the Tigers with 14 catches for 149 yards and one score.
Bryan Bresee, DT: At 6-5, 300 pounds, Bresee is a disruptor up front. So far this season the sophomore has three tackles for loss and one sack. He’ll line up at various spots across the front and the N.C. State front will be wise to locate him before every snap.