Looking To NC State And Beyond

In late August, most would not have been shocked if you said the Tigers would have one loss at this point in the season. What most would not have believed is that the Tigers would have only played 4 games AND beaten Georgia Tech.

The bizarre start to the 2001 season has all Tiger fans at once shaking their head and then jumping in jubilation. The open week offers us an opportunity to look ahead at the remaining schedule and try our best to foresee the future.

A quick look at the schedule and you can say two things for certain. There is not a team on the schedule that you can overlook, and there is not a team on the remaining schedule that scares the fire out of you.

If we looked at the games remaining and set point spreads as of today, the Tigers would be favored handily in only 1 game…Duke. The Tigers would be slight favorites over UNC and Wake Forest. The Tigers would be virtual toss-ups at Maryland and at NC State. And the Tigers would be slight underdogs versus Florida State and at South Carolina.

What does this all mean? Not much, except that Clemson could go anywhere from 6-5 to 10-1…depending on one thousand different things. The one thing that we do know for sure, the Atlantic Coast Conference is open for the taking for the first time in 11 years. And don't forget that the ACC Champion will punch their ticket to a BCS Bowl game, most likely the Orange Bowl, and receive the kind of attention and money that every big time program salivates over. Clemson has as good of chance as grabbing the crown as about 4 other teams in the ACC, so we will just have to hold on for the ride.

My "5 Things To Watch" for next weeks game versus NC State in Raleigh.

#1-Keep The Mo
If there is one major thing that the win in Atlanta did for the Tigers, it gave them some sorely needed momentum. Keeping that momentum is now the challenge, and it won't be as easy as one might think. The Wolfpack were stunned by their loss to UNC, and they were not at their best versus Wake Forest this past Saturday. The Pack will eye the game Saturday as their opportunity to prove they belong n this ACC race. Whoever loses next Saturday can forget the ACC title chase and focus on earning a Peach Bowl bid.

#2-Restful or Rusty?
Off weeks are always a blessing, but coming back from them is sometimes a dicey proposition. There is no question that the bumps and bruises have had an opportunity to heal, but you can't walk into Raleigh and win if you don't play well. If there are some signs of cob webs, hopeful they will be wiped away after a few series.

#3-The T-Zack Attack
Travis Zachery had maybe his finest all round performance last week in Atlanta. His hard running and great blocking off the ball were as important to the win as Woody's great runs. Zachery again needs to step up and help take the pressure off Woody. The Clemson offense is very good…almost scary…when Zachery is running the ball well. It opens up Woody to run or pass with much more ease and it can also almost guarantee big total yardage for the Tigers.

#4-Wynn Will Kopp Help?
The punting has been pitiful, to put it nicely. Wynn Kopp has enough talent to be a very good kicker, so his head is just not on straight right now. At some point he will either straighten it out, or he will be lost forever. Clemson lost the field position war last week versus Tech and still survived. The Tigers may not be quite so lucky against the Pack.

#5-Defensively Speaking
There are not going to be too many games this year that will not hinge on how well the defense plays. Saturday will be no exception. State has the potential to roll up the points if the defense does not strap it on. While Georgia Tech scored a bunch of points Saturday, the defense actually built a little confidence by stopping Tech with the game on the line. Let's hope it carries over.

Scott can be reached at weekendedition@cs.com

Scott is the host of "The College Football Weekend Preview" on Thursday nights from 8-10 p.m. immediately falling Tiger Calls on WCCP 104.9 FM. The show can also be heard via the Internet at www.wccpfm.com.

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