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Clemson Tigers vs. NC State Wolfpack Preview and Prediction

Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson

So many teams overlook their opponent of the week when they have a significant game the next week. The Clemson Tigers play the Florida State Seminoles on Nov. 7. But before then, they have a rivalry game against the NC State Wolfpack called the Textile Bowl.

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Last weekend at Sun Life Stadium, Clemson handed the Miami Hurricanes their biggest loss in school history, 58-0. That game ended up costing Al Golden his job as head coach as he was relieved of his duties on Sunday night.

At BB&T Field, the Wolfpack defeated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 35-17. NC State scored 28 unanswered points early in the game and never looked back as head coach Dave Doeren's team notched its first ACC win of the season.

Clemson leads the all-time series over NC State 54-28-1, which includes winning 10 out of the last 11 in the rivalry. In 2014, the Tigers shut out the Wolfpack 41-0.

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Clemson at NC State

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EST (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC or ESPN2

Spread: Clemson -10.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Deshaun Watson

While Leonard Fournette has been the front-runner for the 2015 Heisman Trophy Award, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson has been quietly building his resume for a possible trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.

Watson leads the ACC in completion percentage (69.3) and is third in total offense per play. He has thrown for 1,566 yards and 15 touchdowns. The sophomore has also rushed for 332 yards and three touchdowns as well.

NC State will provide a big test for Watson as the Wolfpack are currently ranked third in total defense, giving up an average of 251 yards per game. Last week against the Hurricanes, Watson threw for 143 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown as well.

2. NC State rushing attack

Last week against Wake Forest, Matthew Dayes rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns in the Wolfpacks’ victory. So far this season, the junior has recorded 793 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

NC State is 29th in rushing offense as they average 212 yards per game. Not only does Clemson have to worry about Dayes, they also have to worry about the running ability of quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

3. Clemson defense

Clemson lost nine starters from its 2014 defense, including All-American defensive end Vic Beasley, who was an NFL first-round selection. Despite the turnover on the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers might have a better defense than they did last season.

Through seven games, Clemson is allowing an average of 14.3 points per game. The Tigers are also giving up 262.3 yards per game, which is the 4th least in college football.

Final Analysis

Clemson has beaten every opponent soundly with the exception of Louisville. NC State has Dayes and a quarterback in Brissett, who could keep the Wolfpack in the game. In the end, Clemson has too many weapons for the Wolfpack to compete with for four quarters.

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The Tigers’ offense is clicking on all cylinders, especially running the football. While NC State has a solid defense, they haven’t seen an offensive attack like Clemson. Running back Wayne Gallman will also present a challenge for the Wolfpack offense.

Defensively, Clemson has the athletes to slow down the NC State rushing attack. Dayes would likely need a near 200-yard effort to pull off the upset.

Prediction: Clemson 44, NC State 20

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.