GAME: No. 14 Clemson (3-0, 1-0) at N.C. State (1-2, 0-1)
LOCATION: Raleigh, N.C., Carter-Finley Stadium (57,500)
TV: Lincoln-Financial Sports
SPREAD: Tigers by 8
COACHES: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden is 63-38 (81-42 overall) in his ninth year at Clemson and owns a 5-3 record against N.C. State. Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien is 1-2 at N.C. State (76-47 overall) and 2-0 against Clemson with both wins coming as the head coach at Boston College.
SERIES: Overall, Clemson has a 47-27-1 lead in the series against N.C. State, including a 16-15 lead in games in Raleigh and a 11-8 lead in games played at Carter-Finley Stadium.
CLEMSON KEY PLAYER: Cullen Harper. Harper remains the key player for Clemson's offense this week. How will he respond in his first game on the road away from the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium? He's passed every other test with flying colors after throwing for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions this season.
N.C. STATE KEY PLAYER: RB Andre Brown. If Brown touches the ball more than 20 times and has any success, the Wolfpack can keep this game uncomfortably close. Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning called Brown, "one of the best running backs I've ever seen."
FORECAST: A shower or two early partly cloudy by kickoff. High of 88 degrees. Chance of rain 30% (weather.com).
INJURIES: Clemson - RB Ray Ray McElrathbey (ACL) out, FB Chad Diehl (leg) out, DB Chris Wade (arm) out. N.C. State - DG DeMario Pressley (knee) probable, DT John Bedics (ankle) out, OL Mike Golder (ACL) out.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They've got these two receivers that have got to be 25 years old up there. This is my third year here and I thought they were seniors a couple of years ago. We post up the years of all their players and they make us look like kindergartners. They've got redshirt senior, redshirt senior, redshirt senior. They only have a couple of underclassmen on their whole two-deep. They have an experienced crew with the ability to adjust." -- Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning on N.C. State's offense.
* 3 Keys to Victory
* On the Record: Cullen Harper
* On the Record: Mark Buchholz
* Mama Tells Spiller: Be Patient!
* Spence Discusses Offense
* 2007 Clemson Beat Pick 'Em
* Tuesdays with Vic
* Tommy Bowden's Press Conference
* What We are Hearing...
* Is Beck the Answer in Raleigh?
* On the Record: Mike Hamlin
* Depth Chart
* Game Notes
* Massive Monday Notebook
WHAT TO WATCH: When Clemson has the Ball - Clemson has focused on its passing attack in each of the last two games against Furman and Louisiana-Monroe and found success with Cullen Harper completing over 70 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Expect that to change Saturday. James Davis and C.J. Spiller have only gotten a handful of touches since the Tigers' 24-18 season-opening win over Florida State but facing a banged up Wolfpack defense should mean a change in play calling. N.C. State has suffered devastating injuries in the interior of its defensive line which has forced third-team tackle Markus Kuhn into a starting role. With Davis having success rushing between the tackles, expect a heavy dose of the power running game. New Wolfpack defensive coordinator Mike Archer had some success stopping Clemson's offense last year in the Music City Bowl when he was with Kentucky, but it was more of Clemson shooting itself in the foot in the redzone than anything else.
When N.C. State has the ball- New starting QB Harrison Beck has had been on a rollercoaster ride since taking over for Daniel Evans in a season opening loss to Central Florida. Poor decision-making and turnovers (seven) cost State dearly in a loss at Boston College after a tremendous second half against the Golden Knights. RB Andre Brown is one of the best in the conference and should carry the ball as many as 30 times Saturday afternoon. State also has plenty of experience at wide receiver where Darrell Blackman, John Dunlap and Donald Bowens are all more than capable of creating big plays. Watch the play of MIKE linebackers Antonio Clay and Cortney Vincent. Both have been banged up but both will be critical in Clemson's defensive performance Saturday.
Special Teams - Kicker Mark Buchholz has been almost perfect on field goals, extra points and kickoffs through the first three games. Punter Jimmy Maners has also done well. After having four onsides kicks recovered against in the past two games (two called back due to penalties) it is imperative the kick return team is ready for anything against State's special teams. Wolfpack kicker Steven Hauschka is perfect on the season (3-for-3)
Intangibles - A number of red flags are raised when analyzing this game. It's Cullen Harper's first start on the road. The offensive line play has been average at best. The rushing numbers for James Davis and C.J. Spiller are surprisingly low. Defensively the Tigers gave up eye-popping numbers to Furman. What does it all mean? The answer will be revealed Saturday afternoon but chances are it has more to do with Clemson's last two opponents and their unorthodox schemes than anything else.
PREDICTION: Clemson 27 N.C. State 24
This game has upset written all over it but coming off a nine-game losing streak which was just ended last week against Wofford, Clemson has more talent on both sides of the ball and should figure out a way to win this game. Still, a 3-9 Wolfpack team gave the Tigers all they could handle last year at home in a 20-14 loss.
PRE-GAME SHOW INFO: The Tiger Pre-game Show with Roy Philpott and Scott Rhymer will be broadcasting live Saturday morning from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM at Carter-Finley Stadium. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM in upstate South Carolina or on the world wide web on wccpfm.com as we celebrate our 53rd consecutive game broadcasting on location covering your Clemson Tigers.
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