WHAT WE ARE HEARING: PREVIEW & PREDICTION FOR CLEMSON AT NC STATE
- 2019-11-09 10:57:13
Welcome to the Textile Bowl edition of What We Are Hearing!
Well, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee did the Tigers a big favor and gave them all the motivation they need to play their best football from here on out, disrespecting the Defending Champs by ranking them No.5 on Tuesday night. It snapped a streak of 24 consecutive weeks in which the Tigers were ranked in the top 4—the longest such streak since the playoff began. The Tigers had been in the top 4 every week since they were No.1 in the first rankings of 2015. Dabo had a great line in his press conference on Tuesday. When asked if he would be upset if Clemson is ranked No.15, he said, "If we're 15 and we beat NC State, maybe we'll be 17." That sums up the ridiculous attitude that outsiders have had toward Clemson all season. It’s as if the Tigers are being punished for having the greatest season ever last year and all anyone wants to do is knock them down. The Tigers have won 24 straight and 21 by blowout, including 44-16 over Alabama. 8 blowouts in 9 games this season. The Tigers’ numbers across the board are virtually identical to those of the 15-0 greatest ever, and defensively they are better, yet these people are trying to say with a straight face that there are four better teams than this one?!
All logic dictates that Clemson should be No.1, but according to the committee, they are No.5. Of course, most or all of the teams ahead of the Tigers will lose, and they will be No.1 or No.2 by the time it all shakes out on Selection Sunday. I expect the winner of LSU at Alabama to move to No.1 next week, and the Tigers will move up to No.4. Penn State also plays at undefeated Minnesota this week, so the Tigers will move to No.3 if the Gophers pull off the upset. Here are the current top 6:
1. Ohio State
4. Penn State
Our teleconference with Chariman Rob Mullens is below. I asked him how they can reconcile Alabama being ranked ahead of Clemson and Penn State despite having an easier schedule than both teams and despite Clemson being the only team in the top 4 for total offense and total defense, the only team with 7 Power Five wins and the only team to hold all 9 opponents under 300 yards. His answer was meaningless as I expected, and honestly I don't think anyone on the committee even knows any of those facts. The audio from the teleconference is below!
Enough of that nonsense. The fools who have been knocking the Defending Champs and rightful No.1 team will be put in their place in the next couple months. For now, let’s look ahead to Saturday night’s matchup with NC State. If the Tigers win and Wake loses at Virginia Tech, the Tigers will have their 5th straight Atlantic Division Title clinched. If Wake wins, it will set up an Atlantic Division Title game next week in Death Valley with the winner going to Charlotte!
Clemson leads the all-time series with NC State 58-28 and has won 7 straight meetings…. Clemson has won 35 of its last 38 games away from home and 23 of its last 24 true road games….Clemson and Alabama are tied for the most consecutive weeks in the AP Top 10 at 70 straight weeks. Georgia is 3rd at 39 weeks… Clemson tied its school record last week with its 21st straight win in Death Valley, going back to the last-second loss to Pitt in 2016. Prior to that, the Tigers won 21 straight, so the Tigers have won 42 of their last 43 home games, losing only on a last-second field goal….Clemson has won its last 38 straight Saturday games, the longest streak in the nation….Clemson has scored 45 points or more for 4 straight games, a first in school history….
NC STATE SYNOPSIS
The 4-4 Wolf Pack come limping into this game with about as many injuries as any team in the country. They have lost their top 4 corners, both starting offensive tackles, a couple tight ends, a wide receiver and their leading rusher. The banged-up team lost 44-10 at Wake Forest last week and gave up 429 rushing yards to Boston College, losing to the Eagles 45-24 in their previous game.
It seems like every other week this season, the Tigers are facing a team that is playing or has played musical quarterbacks, and this week is no different. Redshirt freshman Devin Leary got his first start for the Pack against Wake last week and was the third QB to start for them this season. He is the first freshman to start at quarterback for NC State since Russell Wilson in 2008. Aside from the injuries, that is the biggest difference with this State team. For years, Dave Doeren has had a top-notch signal caller to rely on. Finley, Glennon and Brissette all went on to play in the NFL. Leary has the arm talent that could take him there too eventually, but he is being thrown in the fire and had a poor outing last week. He was 17-45 for 149 yards with one touchdown and 2 interceptions. He is not a threat to run the ball either.
With RB Ricky Person out, 6’0, 197-pound freshman Zonovan Knight (#24) is their leading rusher with 389 yards and 3 touchdowns this season. He averages 4.7 yards per carry. 5’10, 185-pound freshman Jordan Houston (#20) will split the carries. He averages 5.7 yards per carry and has 2 touchdowns this season. The Pack’s leading receiver is 6’3, 210-pound junior Emeka Emezie (#3), who has 39 catches for 410 yards and one touchdown this season. 6’0, 195-pound sophomore Thayer Thomas (#87) has just 26 catches but 3 touchdowns, and 6’4, 212-pound freshman Devin Carter (#88) hasn’t scored but averages 16.2 yards per catch. TE Cary Angeline (#6), a 6’7, 250-pound junior, has 21 catches and 4 touchdowns to lead the team. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a tight end wear #6 before!
Defensively, the Pack is led by senior DT Larrell Murchison (#92), who has 7 sacks this season. Junior LB Louis Acceus (#2) has 4.5 sacks. With all those corners out, State has just 3 interceptions this season, and 2 of them are by junior Chris Ingram (#7). State is dead last nationally (No.130) with just 5 turnovers created this season.
State has a reliable kicker in sophomore Christopher Dunn. He is 15-18 this season and has missed just once inside 50 yards. His long is from 43.
The Tigers have been clicking on all cylinders for the last 4 games, ever since the lone close-call at UNC. Again, it’s eerie how similar this season is to last. That scare in Chapel Hill occurred almost a year to the day as the Syracuse game last season. After Chase Brice and Travis Etienne led the Tigers to the win in that Syracuse game, the Tigers blew out their next 10 opponents for the national title, and they are doing the exact same thing now. Etienne has been brilliant in the last 4 games, breaking the Clemson career rushing touchdown record held by James Davis last week with his 48th rush TD. He also tied C.J. Spiller’s career all-purpose touchdown record and became the first Tiger to rush for over 200 yards 3 times in a career. Trevor Lawrence has been equally brilliant, throwing 3 touchdowns in each of the last 4 games. It’s the first time that’s happened since Tajh Boyd in 2012. Not even Deshaun did that in his illustrious career! Trevor is also spreading the ball around very equitably to his numerous weapons. Ross, Higgins and Rodgers each had a touchdown reception last week. On the season, Ross has 5, Higgins and Rodgers 4 and Overton has 3. The WR corps is also doing a terrific job blocking at the second level—something in which former WR Dabo Swinney takes great pride—and that’s paying huge dividends in the run game.
The story of the season, though, has been the defense exceeding all expectations. They have actually held opponents to fewer points than last year’s unit that led the nation, and Clemson is the only team in the nation to hold all 9 opponents this season to less than 300 total yards. In fact, the last team to do that was Alabama in 2011 and before that LSU in 2006! In this day and age of fast-tempo spread offenses, it’s an even more remarkable feat. The Tigers held A.J. Dillon and Boston College to just 97 yards rushing a couple weeks ago. In their games before and after Clemson, BC rushed for 429 and 496 yards respectively! And the Tigers have been without Xavier Thomas for the past 3 games. They get him back on Saturday along with Denzel Johnson, who missed the Wofford game with a bruised shoulder. Keep an eye on K’Von Wallace Saturday night. He has an interception in each of the last 3 years against the Pack! He told me after the game last year that they did not recruit him, and that has been a source of motivation for him. The one he had two years ago in Raleigh sealed the game for the Tigers.
Clemson has won 7 straight Textile Bowls, but Carter-Finley Stadium has been a nightmare over the years for the Tigers. Two years ago, it took a punt return TD by Ray Ray McCloud—the only one of his career—and an INT by Wallace to escape with a win. However, it will be a different story this year with a beleaguered Wolf Pack plagued by injuries. With the cold weather and the season they are having, it might not even be much of a crowd advantage for the Pack, and normally it’s one of the toughest places to play in the ACC. With a banged-up offensive line, a true freshman left tackle and Xavier Thomas back, I expect Brent Venables to wreak havoc on that redshirt freshman Devin Leary in his second start. The Tigers cruise to a 5th straight blowout, a 25th straight win and 8th straight over State. The Tigers win 10 for a 9th straight season, tying Texas for the third-longest such streak of all time!
The Prowl toward a 5th consecutive ACC Title, a 5th consecutive College Football Playoff appearance and a 4th National Title continues….
CLEMSON 55 NC State 10
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