Clemson Football squares off against the NC State Wolfpack in Death Valley this Saturday at 7:30 PM. The Wolfpack are ranked 10th in the AP Poll. They are a very good team and fully capable of winning this game.
It’s tough for me to come up with good bold predictions when I have a healthy respect for Clemson’s opponent, but I think there are a few areas I feel particularly confident about.
1. Clemson will hold NC State to less than 100 yards rushing
One of the questions about NC State’s offense in the preseason was running back, where they lacked returning production. Demie Sumo-Karngbaye has been a pleasant surprise, partly because State was his only Power Five offer. A lot of programs missed on him. Jordan Houston has also contributed.
Despite this, NC State still ranks 75th in the FBS rushing the ball, with 137.7 yards per game against FBS opponents. Here is a quick look at how their FBS opponents in the first four games rank in rushing defense (FCS opponents aren’t counted):
- East Carolina: tied for 39th
- Texas Tech: 37th
- UConn: 106th
- Clemson: 3rd
ECU and Texas Tech have decent rush defenses, but this will be the first time this season the Wolfpack have faced a rush defense like Clemson’s. Despite the lack of attention grabbing plays, PFF ranks Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy as one of the best in the nation against the run.
2. NC State will have more defensive penalties that Clemson
Clemson Nation had to avert their eyes every time Sam Hartman put the ball in the air last weekend because we knew what was coming: another flag. Clemson now averages 6.3 penalties per game on the defensive side this season against FBS competition.
NC State averages 7.0 penalties per game on defense this season against FBS competition.
Most of Clemson’s defensive penalties have come from inexperienced players who are either new starters or backups. NC State had a defense that returned ten starters from last year’s squad. Clemson’s penalty woes are lamentable, but at least understandable. It’s a bit surprising that State’s experienced defense is making as many flaggable mistakes.
3. Brian Bresee will get at least two sacks
I’m not sure there are any other college football players who have gone through what Bresee has faced this season. He looked very good against Georgia Tech in the season opener, but since then he hasn’t been able to go through a normal week of preparation due to the unfortunate death of his sister.
It’s tough to come up with good bold predictions for Clemson football when I have a healthy respect for the opponent, but I think there are a few areas to feel particularly confident about
This week, Bresee will be able to practice and focus in a routine way for the first time since the opener. I doubt anyone on the NC State line will be ready for 100% Bresee.
4. Dave Doeren will accuse Clemson of doing something wrong
I guess this isn’t that bold. Doeren isn’t exactly a class act. He tends to deflect rather than admit he was bested. If things don’t go NC State’s way Saturday, I suspect the Wolfpack head coach won’t be able to resist the urge to blame Clemson or Clemson Nation for something.
“The scoreboard was too bright.”
“The new lights were distracting.”
“Clemson’s field doesn’t drain well enough.”
“There was lady in section TDQ of the North Upper Deck with binoculars stealing signs and using a flashlight to send signals to DJ in the huddle.”
I’m not sure what it will be, but if the Pack loses their best opportunity to prove they are ready for prime time, excuses will be made.