NC State (4-1) at Clemson (2-2) Oct. 4, 3:30, ESPNU
Here's The Deal: NC State gave the ACC’s best team, Florida State, all it could handle last weekend. Now, the Pack tries its hand at the league’s other powerhouse, Clemson. Even in losing to the defending champs in Raleigh, 56-41, State made a statement that it’s no longer going to be one of the league’s pushovers. The Tigers had a memorable Week 5 as well. Last Saturday will go down as the beginning of the Deshaun Watson era in Death Valley. The ballyhooed rookie quarterback set a school record with six touchdown passes in a 50-35 rout of North Carolina.
Why NC State Might Win: With Jacoby Brissett running second-year head coach Dave Doeren’s system, opponents better be prepared to outscore the Wolfpack in 2014. State is on wicked roll, scoring at least 41 points in each of the last four games. Brissett is emerging into a special all-around playmaker, and he’s making those around him better. The running game is a useful accessory for a change, and six different receivers, led by Bo Hines, have at least 10 catches.
Why Clemson Might Win: With Watson at the controls, the Tigers showed last Saturday that they can give a workout to the scoreboard as well. Plus, the quarterback and his young receivers, Artavis Scott, Mike Williams and Germone Hopper, will improve as they spend more time together. The difference on Saturday will be the Clemson D, which is far more advanced than the Pack. Brent Venables’ group hasn’t been unbeatable, but Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett and Stephone Anthony can create mismatches with the NC State blockers.
Who To Watch Out For: Watson is a special talent, who can carry the team in certain situations, but it sure would help if the Tigers outfitted him with a running game. Clemson is averaging 3.1 yards per carry, and neither C.J. Davidson nor D.J. Howard has been given a chance to get out of the blocks. NC State is vulnerable on defense. But even more so if Clemson is balanced, and Watson isn’t constantly battling back from second-and-long.
What’s Going To Happen: Watson vs. Brissett is a delicious quarterback duel few could have envisioned just a month ago. The pair represent the future at the position through 2015. Brissett, though, has the tougher assignment this weekend, facing a Clemson front seven that’ll be in his face plenty. Watson, at home and against a suspect and demoralized NC State D, will continue his evolution with a second straight win as the starter.
Prediction: Clemson 40 … NC State 27
CFN's Take: NC State vs. Clemson
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