The Carolina Collision Course

Campus Clash

(16) NC State Wolfpack at (3) Clemson Tigers

NC State: Each year that he’s been there, I’ve been impressed with what head coach Dave Doeren has been able to accomplish down in Raleigh. So far this season, they’re sitting at 5-0 and have a 2-0 record in the ACC Atlantic behind, of course, the Clemson Tigers. They’re a well-balanced football team and the numbers show it. They average 33 points a game offensively and quarterback Ryan Finley is having a great year. According to some of the draft experts, he’s the best quarterback in this upcoming draft class and the crazy thing is you barely hear about him which I can understand because there are so many great quarterbacks in the country. When he throws the football, he can place it in the perfect spot for his receiver only and he hits the receiver in stride each time. He can make all the passes and he can even use his feet. Pay attention to him when you watch him play and just look at how he operates. Their defense is also one of the best in the ACC and they’ve still been able to be successful after losing Bradley Chubb but they’ve played as a team and it’s never easy replacing a guy of Chubb’s caliber, but you have to keep it moving. This is their biggest game of the year facing the best team in the conference on Saturday afternoon.

Clemson: After a scare against Syracuse two weeks ago, they got back to playing Clemson Tigers football the following week against Wake Forest. They got off to a fast start and never looked back and scored 63 points and holding the opponent to only a field goal. I really didn’t think Trevor Lawrence would be playing after the gruesome hit he took during the Syracuse game, but I’m glad he’s back on the field and doing what he does best. The Clemson Tigers are in great shape right now and I don’t see them really receiving a challenge from any team until they get to the playoffs and I say this lightly because I said the same thing about the Georgia Bulldogs and look what happened to them, they lost last week. This offense can score the football at any time and strike anyplace on the field and you were seeing this type of production with Kelly Bryant so I understand why they decided to stick with Trevor instead and the decision has paid off. Coming into the season, their defense was expected to be one of the best and they haven’t disappointed yet. They have the best defensive line in the country and they really set the tone for the entire defense and there’s always one tier that helps set the tone of the entire unit and they have that stout defensive line. The bye week is over and it’s time to get back to business.

NC State Player To Watch: Kelvin Harmon– Running the football is going to be difficult on this Tigers front. If you’ve watched some of Clemson’s games this year, they’ve given up a few big plays to some receivers and tight ends down the field. This is where Kelvin will come in handy. He’s a 6’3 receiver that can make the catch over the middle and stretch the field from a vertical standpoint.

Clemson Player To Watch: K.J. Henry– We hear about Austin Bryant, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins, let’s meet K.J. Henry, a 6’5, 235-pound defensive end who was a five-star recruit when Clemson landed him. He has a great first step and feels he can get to the ball-carrier each time he’s on the field and he usually wins each battle.

Final Analysis: This is a big game in the ACC for both teams and these are the top two teams in the ACC Atlantic division right now as we speak. I see this showdown being closer than many are expecting it to be because Clemson has shown that they can be vulnerable at times. If I’m North Carolina State, I’m looking back at Clemson’s game against the Texas A&M Aggies and seeing how Kellen Mond attacked the Tigers secondary with the passing game. Clemson needs to establish the tempo in their favor early on and when they do, they’re a difficult team to beat.

Prediction: Clemson 35 NC State 24