With their sights set on winning the ACC and going to the BCS national championship game, a trip to play North Carolina State ended the very same ambitions for a different team last year, which means the Tigers should be extremely focused as the arrive in Raleigh.
In fact, North Carolina State have won against Florida State in 2012 and Clemson in 2011 at home, making them somewhat of Top 10 killers in the ACC, which doesn’t have the privealge of the SEC in putting one-loss teams in the national championship game. Clemson are ranked number three in the nation following their wins over Georgia and South Carolina State, the same ranking Florida State had went they went into Carter-Finley Stadium last season.
But what do the Wolfpack have to offer in order to mess up the order of things once again? They’re 2-0 this season so far (both games at home) after beating Louisiana Tech and Richmond. Pete Thomas isn’t doing a good job replacing Mike Glennon at quarterback, throwing three interceptions and no touchdowns through his first two games.
The running game, averaging 212.5 yards per game, is carrying the offensive load, as Matt Dayes with three touchdowns, Tony Creecy and Cryant Shirreffs are posing most of the threat. The defense is doing well also, but the quality of opponents doesn’t tell us much on how they’ll face Tajh Boyd and his crew.
But even though North Carolina State have a very good secondary and are a dangerous team at home, Clemson and Tajh Boyd are very different from the way they were two seasons ago. Boyd threw for 16 TDs with five picks while going 3-1 on the road, picking up 10.2 yards per throw while posting a 184.7 passer rating last season on the road, with his YPA and passer rating the best in the nation. Clemson had no problem beating North Carolina State last season (At home, though), putting up 754 yards on them.
The fact is that Clemson have a better quarterback and possibly teams overall than Florida State did last season when they came to Raleigh, while the offense North Carolina State pose as their threat simply isn’t good enough to be taken too seriously. Their defense is the threat, but Boyd is probably too good to fall into the traps that will be set for him this time around.
Prediction - In a week that lacks true marquee games, Clemson don’t want to be highlighted as the first team in the bench of national contenders to lose against an unranked opponent. They should overcome this test with flying colors.