WHERE: Memorial Stadium (81,500) - Clemson. S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 6 (12:10 p.m. EST)
SPREAD: Clemson -3½
Clemson leads the series 21-9 since it was dubbed ‘The Textile Bowl' in 1981.
After a 4-0 start in the month of September, Tom O'Brien's squad went 2-2 in October with losses to East Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Clemson looked to be back on track with consecutive wins following the Tigers' three-game October losing streak. Last weekend's disappointing 16-10 loss at Boston College has the Tigers, 4-4 (2-3 ACC), with an outside chance at qualifying for the ACC Championship.
A Wolfpack win on Saturday would end the bid for another Atlantic Division title by Dabo Swinney.
N.C. STATE RUNNING GAME VS. CLEMSON FRONT
Russell Wilson's threat as a rusher is different than his dual-threat quarterbacking peers—Cameron Newton, Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez.
N.C. State QB Russell Wilson is third on the team with 269 yards rushing and first with five touchdowns. (Getty Images)
Then again, as successful as some teams have been with the quarterback zone read against Clemson over the past two seasons, it might behoove the Wolfpack to call a few designed runs for Wilson.
He's third on the team with 269 yards rushing and first with five touchdowns.
There are two-more pieces to the Wolfpack's three-piece rushing attack.
Mustafa Greene, a freshman from Irmo, leads the Wolfpack with 495 yards and is second with four touchdowns.
Dean Haynes has rushed for 312 yards and three touchdowns.
Clemson's run defense has steadily improved throughout the season, despite the 72nd ranking and 158.7 yard average. After allowing Boston College running back Montel Harris to rush 23 times for 109 yards in the first half of last weekend's loss, the junior carried 13 times for 35 yards in the second half.
Wilson is the straw that stirs the drink for N.C. State. His success rushing could be the most important factor Saturday as the Wolfpack operate out of a lot of three and four wide receiver sets—formations that can give Clemson fits when defending the run.
CLEMSON RUNNING GAME VS. N.C. STATE FRONT
The most valuable piece of the Clemson offense is out for the next couple of weeks with a foot injury—Andre Ellington, who missed most of the fourth quarter last weekend at Boston College.
Ellington has been one of the most dynamic ground gainers in the ACC this season, leading Clemson Tigers with 684 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Jamie Harper, who's rushed for 323 yards and three touchdowns, will get the bulk of the carries Saturday. Roderick McDowell will also be called upon as the second running back. In limited duty this season, he's rushed for 90 yards.
Junior running back Jamie Harper will get the start Saturday in place of the injured Andre Ellington. (Roy Philpott)
And he is.
Irving leads the team with 61 tackles, 10½ tackles for loss and is tied for first with two caused fumbles. All of this comes as part of his return from an automobile accident that nearly claimed his life just over a year ago.
N.C. State's run defense has seen a steady increase in yards allowed over the last three games. Boston College rushed for 99, East Carolina 120 and Florida State 177.
Harper needed just for carries to rush for 86 yards in Raleigh last season. His 69-yard run was the longest run from scrimmage the Tigers had all last season.
Sure, Irving will be behind the line to this year, but we still think Clemson has a decent matchup here. Without Ellington, the edge goes to N.C. State.
CLEMSON PASSING GAME VS. N.C. STATE SECONDARY, PASS RUSH
Following a poor performance last weekend, Kyle Parker looks to make amends with a solid showing on Saturday. But his success could be handcuffed with Jaron Brown listed as questionable.
Brown, who is third on the team in receptions (16), has emerged as a go-to wide receiver with DeAndre Hopkins—the second leading pass catcher (18).
Kyle Parker completed 12 of 18 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns in last year's 43-23 win in Raleigh. (Roy Philpott)
And opponents are throwing for an average of 201 yards against N.C. State, which ranks 64th in pass efficiency defense with a 125.35 rating.
Defensive coordinator Mike Archer has been successful dialing up blitzes this season. The Wolfpack are 12th in the country with 2.88 sacks a game—three players are tied for the team lead with four.
This should make for a good matchup since Clemson has been solid in pass protection this year, giving up less than a sack per game this season, tops in the ACC.
Tajh Boyd will also see a share of snaps. When and how much has not been made known publicly, but based on last season's two-quarterback system, there might be a few bumps in store.
A shaky N.C. Sate secondary makes this an even matchup.
N.C. STATE SPECIAL TEAMS VS. CLEMSON SPECIAL TEAMS
Richard Jackson will get his first crack at place kicking this season after Chandler Catanzaro's two missed field goals against Boston College last weekend. (Roy Philpott)
N.C. State ranks in the bottom half in kickoff and punt return defense, but are still in the top-100.
Ellington provided a great threat in the kick return game, too. His presence will also be missed, but Clemson still has the threat of Marcus Gilchrist and Hopkins in the punt return game. As a team, the Wolfpack are 85th in net punting, so there's potential there for the Tigers.
Richard Jackson will get his first crack at place kicking this season after Chandler Catanzaro's two missed field goals against Boston College last weekend.
N.C. State kicker Josh Czajkowski is 12 of 15 on field goals this season, and is perfect from outside 40-49 yards.
Clemson's return threat gives the Tigers the advantage.
N.C. STATE PASSING GAME VS. CLEMSON SECONDARY, PASS RUSH
Wilson has the luxury have throwing to some of the ACC's tallest wide receivers. The average height for the Wolfpack wide outs with a catch is 6-foot-3, second to only North Carolina.
N.C. State wide receiver Jarvis Williams, who stands 6-foot-4, is second on the team with 30 catches for 465 yards. (Getty Images)
Owen Spencer, who's 6-foot-3, ranks fifth in N.C. State history in receiving yards. He's tied for 14th in school history with 102 catches and leads the team in that category this season (36).
The Clemson secondary continues to be solid with a 113.51 pass efficiency rating. Although there is concern in defending the pass against taller receivers, the Tigers performed pretty well against a tall North Carolina group.
DeAndre McDaniel, who leads the team with three interceptions, leads the ball hawking safeties that will be looking for Wilson to slip up. The junior has a 131.7 rating, which is 51st in the country.
Big opportunities for sacks are ahead for Bowers and company. The N.C. State offensive line ranks 90th with a 2½ sacks allowed average. Bowers continues to rank among the nation's premier pass rushers with 1.25 sacks per game. He leads the country with 10.
PREDICTION: N.C. State 17 Clemson 13