Saturday, November 6, 2010
12:00 pm (EST), ACC Network
NC State (6-2) at Clemson (4-4) Nov. 6, 12:00 ET
Here's The Deal … With one timely fumble at the end of last Thursday's game against Florida State, NC State has taken over the lead in a tight Atlantic Division race. The Wolfpack won a thriller, 28-24, becoming bowl-eligible and ensuring it'll wear a fat and rare target in November. It lost its last road trip to East Carolina, and will play three of the final four games outside Raleigh. Half of the division is still in the hunt for a spot in the ACC title game, but Clemson is surprisingly not one of them. The Tigers, last year's champ, suffered a crushing blow last weekend, losing to sputtering Boston College, 16-10. It put a halt to the program's recent surge, which included blowouts of Maryland and Georgia Tech, and perpetuated its problems away from Death Valley. It'll spend the next four weeks playing spoiler and trying to qualify for the postseason.
Why NC State Might Win: The one constant for the Pack this season has been the offense, specifically a passing attack that leads the league at almost 300 yards a game. While QB Russell Wilson has been less than perfect with his reads, he continues to make things happen, running for three scores against the Seminoles. He got help on the ground from Mustafa Greene and has a terrific receiving corps that's led by Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer. If NC State even approaches its 35-point average, Clemson will struggle to keep pace. The Tigers have averaged 22 points over the last six games, and will labor to seal off hard-charging linebackers Nate Irving and Audie Cole.
Why Clemson Might Win: The Pack wants to pass, but the DeAndre McDaniel-led secondary rarely gives up much ground. State wants to create pressure, but the Tigers lead the ACC in sacks allowed. On the reverse side, the Wolfpack has done an awful job at protecting Wilson, which will be a particular problem this Saturday. DE Da'Quan Bowers has had All-American season so far, and if he gets too much attention, fellow end Andre Branch and DT Jarvis Jenkins are going to make State pay. Lost in the .500 record has been this defense, which excels in the red zone and gets an added boost from P Dawson Zimmerman.
What To Watch Out For: There could be a shake-up in the Clemson backfield, especially after last week's debacle. One thing that's certain is that RB Andre Ellington is out with a toe injury, which means more touches for beefy Jamie Harper. At quarterback, while Kyle Parker's job is safe, might it be time to give a few series a game to redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd? Clearly the future, he's capable of giving a spark to an attack that sure could use it.
What Will Happen: Like so many of the games involving these teams, this one is going right down to the wire. Its offense struggling and its back in the corner, Clemson will put its fate in the hands of a defense that's done a terrific job for most of the season. The Tigers will contain Wilson, picking off a couple of his passes, run the ball, and move to 5-1 in front of the home crowd.
CFN Prediction: Clemson 26 … NC State 21 … Line: Clemson -3
Must See Rating: In Treatment: Adele – 5 … In Treatment: Frances - 1 … 4
NC State Game Notes
Heading into the ninth game of the season, NC State controls its own destiny in terms of the ACC's Atlantic Division standings. Although Florida State still leads that side of the conference race with one more victory in league play, if the Wolfpack ends up tied with the Seminoles it would win the tiebreaker.
The Pack will also have to travel to Maryland, the team tied with NC State for second in the standings this week.
Going undefeated in the month of November is a feat that NC State has accomplished in the not-so-distant past. In 2008, the Wolfpack opened ACC play 0-4, then won its last four league matchups, all in November, and ended up qualifying for a bowl.
Of the four teams in the hunt for the Atlantic Division title, the Wolfpack is the only one that has to go on the road three times in the last four games.
STATE ‘PACKS' UP FOR MONTH OF NOVEMBER
Tom O'Brien and his Wolfpack squad will keep their bags packed in the next month. NC State will begin the month playing Clemson in the aptly named "Death Valley," always a tough venue for the opposition. The Pack will return home for a Homecoming matchup with Wake Forest on Nov. 13, then will play down the road at Chapel Hill on the 20th and will travel to College Park, Md., to take on the Terrapins on Thanksgiving weekend.
The last time NC State played three road games in the month of November was in 1973, when Lou Holtz's Wolfpack squad won at South Carolina on Nov. 3, lost at No. 6 Penn State on Nov. 10, won at Duke on Nov. 17 and then knocked off Wake Forest at home on Nov. 24. That ACC Championship squad ended up earning a bid to the Liberty bowl, where it defeated Kansas, 31-18.
PACK HOPES TO BREAK LOSING STREAK TO TIGERS
NC State has dropped the past six games to Clemson, a streak which ties as the longest in the series history between the two schools and is the longest active losing streak for the Pack against any league team. Clemson leads the series handily at 50-27-1.
The Wolfpack has played better on the road than at home against Clemson during the current losing streak. The last three games at Clemson were decided by six, six and 18 points, while the three games in Carter-Finley were 21, 22 and 20-point margins.
NC State hasn't defeated Clemson in Raleigh since 2003 (17-15) and at Clemson since 2002 (38-6).
OPPONENTS TODAY, TEAMMATES TOMORROW?
NC State quarterback Russell Wilson and Clemson signal-caller Kyle Parker will be opponents when the Wolfpack and Tigers play this weekend, and they have been opponents many times in recent years, both on the gridiron and on the baseball diamond.
The day may come soon, however, when Wilson and Parker will be teammates, only not in football. Both were chosen by the Colorado Rockies in last June's Major League Baseball draft – Parker in the first round and Wilson in the fourth – and both signed contracts with the Rockies. Wilson spent the summer with the Tri-City Dust Devils of the short-season Northwest League. Parker signed late in the summer and will not begin his professional baseball career until next April.
Wilson and Parker are not the first college quarterbacks to move on to professional baseball. The Rockies have two former QBs on their current major league roster – first baseman Todd Helton (Tennessee) and outfielder Seth Smith (Ole Miss). Should Wilson and Parker both make it to Colorado before Helton and Smith move on, the Rockies would have more quarterbacks on their roster (4) than the crosstown Denver Broncos.
And that's not the end of the story of the Rockies and college quarterbacks. Wilson's Tri-City teammate this summer, starting pitcher Josh Sullivan, played quarterback at Auburn, although mostly as a backup to current Oakland Raiders' QB Jason Campbell. That gives the Rockies organization five college quarterbacks.
The Rockies' QB quintet is just part of the latest wave of college quarterbacks to play professional baseball. They join a select group that includes the likes of Terry Harvey of NC State, Dennis Dixon of Oregon, Drew Henson of Michigan, John Elway of Stanford, Jay Schroeder of UCLA, and Rick Leach of Michigan. Then there are Dave Shinskie of Boston College and Chris Weinke of Florida State, who took the reverse route, playing professional baseball and then returning to college in their mid-20s to quarterback their college football teams.
There is one question out of all this that begs an answer: Of all the former quarterbacks ever to play professional baseball, how many, if any, have any gone from opponents in college football to teammates in professional baseball? Wilson and Parker could conceivably become the first.
THE TEXTILE BOWL
Although not many of the players in uniform know about it, for the past 30 years (since 1981), the series between NC State and Clemson has been dubbed the Textile Bowl, as that industry has such a major economic impact on both states and both schools boast renowned textile colleges. The North Carolina textile manufacturers donate money to NC State's scholar-ship fund every year in honor of the Wolfpack's MVP from the game. Clemson posts a 21-9 advantage in the Textile Bowl.
BEATING SEMINOLES A RUSH FOR WILSON
In 2009, he threw for five touchdowns in a 42-45 loss in Tallahassee. This season, Russell Wilson managed just one scoring pass against the 16th-ranked Seminoles. He more than made up for that on the ground, however. Wilson rushed for three touchdowns in the Thursday night matchup, marking the first time a Wolfpack field general had run for three scores since Preston Poag did it against Western Carolina on Sept. 3, 1988.
Wilson has now run for 13 touchdowns in his career. His three TD runs against FSU was just one less than he had in the entire 2008 or 2009 seasons.
Wilson was named the ACC's Offensive Back of the Week (for the fourth time this season) for his performance against the ‘Noles.
Junior quarterback Russell Wilson has now run for 917 yards in his career. That's more than any quarterback in school history with the exception of Johnny Evans, who gained 1,259 yards on the ground and passed for 2,509 during his career, which spanned from 1974-77.
Wilson, whose 2010 passing mark of 2,302 is close to Evans' four-year numbers, has rushed for 13 career touchdowns. Evans also rushed for 13 touchdowns during his career, passing for a dozen (Wilson has passed for 67).
SCORES ARE SCORING FOR NC STATE
NC State is getting its scoring from many different spots this season. Fourteen different players have scored touchdowns for the Wolfpack this season, a mark that ties as the fourth-highest in the nation. Four players have crossed the goal line four times each, while nine have scored two or more TDs.
In terms of positions, wide receivers (6), halfbacks (3), fullbacks (1), tight ends (1), defensive backs (2) and a quarterback (1) have been responsible for the Wolfpack's 35 TDs this season.
In 52 of the 57 years since the ACC was formed, NC State has scored fewer touchdowns for the season than the Pack has already scored in eight games in 2010.
PACK REMAINS INJURY FREE
Knock on wood, throw some salt over your shoulder or grab your rabbit's foot before reading this note: Eight games into the 2010 season, NC State has not lost a single player for the season due to injury.
There are a couple of players still sitting out who were injured last season and haven't returned (cornerbacks Rashard Smith and Jarvis Byrd) and offensive guard/ tackle R.J. Mattes missed the first two games of the year after his 2009 knee injury. But so far in 2010, only one starter has been injured and forced to miss time. That was offensive tackle Mikel Overgaard, who started the first three games before injuring his elbow and being forced to miss three games.
This healthy trend is a complete reversal of Tom O'Brien's first three years with the Wolfpack program. His first three Wolfpack squads were decimated by injuries. In the last three seasons prior to 2010 combined, players who were starters at one point in their careers missed an overwhelming total of 180 games. That's an average of 60 games missed per season.
OFFENSE LEADS LEAGUE
NC State enters the ninth game of the 2010 season with some of the best offensive marks in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Wolfpack currently leads the league in pass offense (295.8 ypg) and total offense (438.6 ypg) and ranks second in scoring offense (35.0 ppg), just two points behind league-leader Virginia Tech.
Those marks would rank among the top three in school history in each of those categories if the season ended today.
HUNGRY LIKE EARL WOLFF
Redshirt sophomore boundary safety Earl Wolff was thrown into the fire early in his career. He played in a dozen games and started four as a redshirt freshman last season for the Wolfpack's beleaguered secondary that ranked 69th nationally last season in pass defense.
But last year's growing pains have become this year's experience, and Wolff has become the leader in the young secondary made up of a true freshman, a true sophomore and another redshirt sophomore.
Wolff has led the team in tackles in each of the past two games, tallying 15 in the loss at East Carolina and tying for the lead with eight in the win over Florida State. He now ranks second only to Nate Irving in tackles among WOLFF-pack players.
TOB LIKES T.O.P
Head coach Tom O'Brien has preached the importance of controlling the time of possession since coming to NC State, but prior to this season, the Wolfpack was on the short end of that statistical category all three years that he has been the head coach.
The 2010 campaign is a different story, as the Wolfpack holds the edge in that category over its opponents by almost six minutes. NC State currently ranks first in the ACC and 10th nationally in TOP, averaging 32:53 minutes of offense per game.
O'Brien's squad has controlled the time of possession in all eight games this season. Last season, the Wolfpack won the TOP battle in six games all season.
The Wolfpack almost broke that streak on Oct. 16 in the overtime loss at East Carolina. The Pirates were on the field almost four minutes longer than the Pack in the first quarter (9:25 to 5:35), but NC State dominated the time of possession stat in the last three quarters and ended up with a 32:31 to 27:27 advantage.
In the early part of the 2010 campaign, NC State did a great job taking care of the football. In the first four games of the year, the Wolfpack turned the ball over just four times and was leading the ACC in turnover margin, have forced nine miscues.
However, in the last four outings, two of which have been Wolfpack losses, the Pack has turned the ball over 12 times, while forcing just nine. Tom O'Brien's squad still boasts a +4 mark in the turnover margin column. NC State has hauled in seven interceptions in eight games this season, after having eight in 12 games a year ago.
NC State finished the 2009 season ranked 114th nationally in turnover margin, with 25 turnovers to just 14 takeaways. The Wolfpack is currently tied for 28th in that category for 2010.
Clemson Game Notes
Much of the pregame talk about this contest has centered around the two quarterbacks. And rightfully so because it is a unique meeting of quarterbacks who have also been drafted by the same Major League Baseball team. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker was the first round selection of the Colorado Rockies last June and NC State signal caller Russell Wilson was selected by the same franchise in the fourth round.
Both players decided to come back to school to play at least another season of college football.
Wilson is a red-shirt junior in terms of football eligibility and Parker is a red-shirt sophomore in terms of football age. Wilson began his professional baseball career this past summer, while Parker is yet to play a professional base- ball game.
Both players have had outstanding college careers in both sports. Parker helped the Clemson baseball team to the College World Series last year and a number-four national ranking. He became the first athlete in Division I history to hit 20 home runs and thrown 20 touch- down passes in the same academic year. His 20 home runs last year led the Clemson baseball team. His 20 touchdown passes rank fourth best in school history for one season.
Parker ranks in the top 10 in Clemson history in both touchdown passes and home runs, the only ACC athlete to rank in the top 10 in both categories. He has 46 career home runs to rank eighth on the list and his 28 touchdown passes rank in a tie for fifth in Clemson history. He has a 13-9 record as a starting quarterback.
Wilson is among the best quarterbacks in NC State history. He has thrown 67 career touchdown passes, second in school history behind only Philip Rivers, who threw 95 between 2000-03. Wilson is among the best in ACC history terms of not throwing interceptions. In 2008 when he was the first team All-ACC quarterback as a freshman, he threw just one interception in 275 attempts. That only interception came at Clemson.
Challenge for Clemson Pass Defense
Clemson ranks 24th in the nation on pass defense and 27th in pass efficiency defense. The Tigers have 12 interceptions for the season and have returned two of those for touchdowns.
Additionally, Clemson ranks 14th in the nation in tackles for loss and 26th in sacks. That pressure also is related to pass defense.
That pass defense will certainly be challenged when the Tigers face NC State and quarterback Russell Wilson. NC State ranks 15th in the nation in passing offense with 295.8 yards per game.
Wilson is the biggest factor, as he has thrown for over 2300 yards and 19 touchdown passes. The touchdown pass total is best in the ACC and his 321 yards per game of total offense is fourth best in the nation. He has thrown for at least 300 yards in six of the eight games. One of the game he failed to reach the 300-yard mark, he quarterbacked the Pack to their biggest win of the year, the 28-24 win over Florida State last Thursday night.
Clemson has 12 interceptions on defense, tied for 18th in the nation. All-American DeAndre McDaniel has three to lead the team and his 14 interceptions over his career rank in a tie for second among active FBS players.
Clemson Has Allowed 36 Points Last Three Games
Clemson ranks in the top 25 in the nation in a number of statistical categories on defense and the performance of Kevin Steele's unit the last three games has had a lot to do with that. Over the last three games, Clemson has allowed just 36 total points. Clemson defeated a 6-2 Maryland team 31-7, then downed Georgia Tech, 27-13.
Clemson lost 16-10 at Boston College, but the defense allowed just one touchdown for the game and just 84 yards in the second half.
Clemson ranks 18th in the nation in scoring defense for the season, allowing 18.1 points per game. That statistic will be challenged this weekend when NC State comes to town. The Pack averages 35 points per game, 20th in the nation. Clemson is also 24th in the nation in pass defense, 14th in tackles for loss and 18th in interceptions.
Over the last five games Clemson has given up just 20 total points in the second half.
Clemson Offense Has Moved Ball vs. NC State Last Three Years One of the reasons for Clemson's success against NC State in recent years has been the production of the offense. The Tigers have won six in a row over the Wolfpack, but in the last three years Clemson has averaged 37.3 points per game. In terms of total offense, Clemson has 760 yards rushing and 730 yards passing over the last three games against NC State for an average of nearly 497 total yards per game, 253 rushing and 243 passing.
Last year Clemson won 43-23 behind 254 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. Kyle Parker completed 12-18 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers averaged 8.3 yards per play in that game.
Of course, C.J. Spiller had a lot to do with the victory. He ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and threw a touchdown pass.
Converting on third down has also been a key for Clemson in recent years against NC State. Clemson is 19-37 on third down against NC State over the last three years a .513 figure.
Bowers One of 12 Semifinalist for Lombardi Award
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers been named one of 12 semifinalists for the 2010 Lombardi Award. The award goes to the top lineman in college football. Bowers leads the nation in tackles for loss with 18.5 and in sacks with 11. He needs just two sacks to establish the Clemson single season record for sacks by a defensive lineman.
He ranks third on the Clemson team in tackles with 48. Bowers and the Tigers take on NC State on Saturday. Ten defensive and two offensive players comprise the list of 12 semifinalists. The Rotary Lombardi Award will be announced on December 8 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
The Big 10 Conference leads the pack with four players, followed by the Big 12 with three, the SEC and the ACC with two each and one from the Mountain West. Florida State's Rodney Hudson is the only other ACC player on the list.
Tigers Will be Without Ellington
Clemson will be without its leading rusher when the Tigers face NC State on Saturday. Andre Ellington has a ligament problem near a toe in a foot that will force him to miss at least the next two games.
Through last Saturday, Ellington was first in the ACC in all-purpose running with 129 yard per game. He is fifth in the ACC in rushing with 85.8 yards per game. He has 686 yards on the ground in 117 attempts, an average of 5.9 yards per carry. He has 10 touchdowns rushing 12 total. He is tied for the ACC lead in total touchdowns.
NC State Depth Chart
|2010 NC State Depth Chart|
Clemson Depth Chart
Thanks to NC State and Clemson Athletics for much of the information in this preview.