Clemson vs NC State: Prediction
The #5 Clemson Tigers are playing host to the 10th ranked NC State Wolfpack Saturday night. The weather was supposed to play a big part. However, speculation now is that the weather should be fine by gametime.
Before we talk about who wins and who loses, let’s look back on last year’s game. The Tigers and Wolfpack played to a 14-14 tie in regulation. Clemson was coming off a tougher-than-expected game against Georgia Tech and their offense was floundering. The offensive line was struggling and the team was still trying to recover from an opening season loss to eventual National Champions Georgia. The game was played IN Raleigh, James Skalski, Will Shipley and Bryan Bresee all went out with injuries in this game. The deck was stacked against them and the Tigers lost in double overtime 27-21.
Emeka Emezie, 6-3 212, had a career game, hauling in 14 passes for 116 yards and one touchdown. Rest of the team combined for 18 receptions. He is gone. RB’s Ricky Person and Zonovan Knight rushed for 170 yards on 44 rushes. They are gone. The NC State offensive line returns four starters in 2022, but someone is missing. Ikem Ekwonu, the massive 6-4 320 left tackle and 1st round draft pick in the NFL draft……gone. These “Clemson killers” from last year have moved on. The key is how well the Wolfpack replaced them.
Fast forward to 2022. Clemson’s offensive line has now played four straight games as a unit. QB DJ Uiagalelei has thrown for over 1000+ yards, 10 touchdowns, and one lone interception, which came from a tipped ball by the WR. Last year, the WR group caught 11 passes from DJ, with Justyn Ross hauling in 8 of them for 77 yards and two touchdowns. The other four receptions totaled 34 yards. Will Shipley had 11 carries for 36 yards before leaving the game with a leg injury. Let’s face it. Clemson’s offense was not very productive through the first seven games of 2021 and
NC State caught the Tigers right in the middle of it. It should be a different story this year.
The Wolfpack returns an experienced defense, one that is allowing only 11.7 points a game in 2022. On the outset, you’re thinking……that’s pretty danged good. They allowed 3 points to Charleston Southern (0-4), 10 points to UConn (1-4), 20 points to ECU (2-2), and 14 points to Texas Tech (3-1). They are scoring 38.0 points a game. We could dissect every game on their schedule but that would take too long.
NC State is next in line to put Clemson on upset alert. Computer simulation games have Clemson losing this game. Multiple media “experts” (loosely used term) are all thinking the Wolfpack will come into Death Valley and break Clemson’s 36-game winning streak. They look at last week’s game against Wake Forest and see weaknesses in Clemson’s secondary. What they are failing to realize is that Wake Forest has better skills players, especially at the wide receiver position. Starting cornerbacks Malcolm Greene and Sheridon Jones are still a gametime decision. The presence of Andrew Mukuba, Sheridan Jones and Malcolm Greene would go a long way in solidifying this secondary.
“Devin Leary tore up Clemson’s secondary last year and he is back.” Devin Leary threw for 238 yards, was 32-44 and threw four TD passes. “Devin Leary walks on water.” He is without certain weapons this year. Granted, he is one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC, but he will be facing a Clemson defense looking for redemption. The Tiger offense is more potent than last year with many more weapons and a confident DJ Uiagalelei.
With the assumption of the Tigers getting back at least one of their starting cornerbacks back on the field and possibly Mukuba…… Look familiar?
Clemson 27 NC State 21
Grayson Mann: CSN Staffer/Analyst
The most significant game of the season is finally here! Expect the emotions to be high as the game progresses. The deciding factor is which front seven will dominate the line of scrimmage. The first half will be a feeling out process as Leary and Uiagalelei exchange scoring drives only for Clemson to show their experience in these big games and make a play late.
Clemson 31 NC State 24
Thomas Woods: CSN Staffer
Tiger offense has to bail out the defense again:
Clemson 41 NC State 38
Josh Starnes: CSN Marketing Director/Contributor
Close game until the 4th quarter…Clemson pulls ahead early in the 4th quarter and stays ahead … Defense able to adjust In the 4th quarter and hold The Wolfpack..Shipley has 2 TD and rushes for over 150 yards…DJ throws for over 400 yards
Clemson 38 NC State 28
Gary McDaniel: Publisher/Analyst
DJ5 and the Tiger’s offense build on last week’s confident and efficient performance. Facing a formidable defense in the Pack from Raleigh, the Tigers find a balance and again find the end zone after long time consuming drives. Look for Clemson to play the ball control game here and keep the snaps down. As last year Devin Leary and the Wolfpack offense where able to maximize this with upwards of 90 plus plays. This game with the secondary banged up and missing pieces on that side of the ball look for the Tigers to try and limit the snaps by playing defense with the ball control on the offensive side. Also the Valley at night fresh off College Game Day will be ‘lit” and that does not play well for communication for the visitors especially along the offensive lines. Expect numerous procedure penalties that could also affect drives if they cause the Pack to get behind the chains. This Pack team comes in with a productive run game and efficient passing game. No game breakers or guys that can take the top of a defense. But limit this team to their game and you can win this one inside the game itself. The pack plays into the Clemson game plan. Look for a host of Screens and quick pass game out to the perimeter. Limiting these to minimal games will force them into 3 and outs. Offense needs to be balanced and stay true to the scheme and let DJ5 manage this game. Two great teams, a epic night, an epic game..
Clemson 31- NC State 27