NC State vs. Clemson Game Preview

The "Textile Bowl" comes to ESPN tonight as the NC State Wolfpack welcome Coach Tommy Bowden and the Clemson Tigers to Carter-Finley Stadium. In a game critical for both programs, here's a preview from StateFans.

The Game: Clemson (4-2, 2-1 ACC) at NC State (4-3, 1-2 ACC)

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina -- Carter-Finley Stadium (51,500)

Thursday's Forecast: Should be a beautiful day in Raleigh with sunny skies and a high of 70 degrees. At gametime the temperature could dip into the mid-50's with a slight breeze.

TV/Radio Coverage: ESPN's Thursday Night Game of the week, it's broadcast nationally on ESPN. It's also broadcast locally on the Wolfpack Radio Sports Network.

Vegas Line: NC State -6 O/U: 55.5

StateFans Game Coverage

- Tigers Limp Into Raleigh
- Three More Wolfpack Starters Sidelined for Clemson
- Coaches Corner Recap with Greg Williams
- Audio: Tommy Bowden Press Conference
- Audio: Clemson Players Speak Out Against NC State
- Gameday Central: Clemson vs. NC State
- Show up With StateFans for the Tiger Pregame Show
- Gut Check Time for Philip & Co.

Injury Updates

NC State

PROBABLE
Avery Gibson, TE - Concussion

OUT
TB Josh Brown - Hip Flexor/Lower Abdominal Strain
OT Chris Colmer - Parsonage Turner Syndrome
OG Ricky Fowler - Subluxed Kneecap, ACL Sprain (Arthroscopic Surgery on 10/12)
WR Sterling Hicks - Torn ACL (surgery, 10/9)
DE Renaldo Moses - Torn ACL, MCL; surgery in three weeks
DB Lamont Reid - Shoulder Subluxation


Clemson

PROBABLE
DE Khaleed Vaughn - knee

DOUBTFUL
LB Eric Sampson - ankle

OUT
WR Airese Curry - ankle
DE J.J. Howard - knee
HO Gene Pate - broken leg

Team Leaders

NC State


Passing – Philip Rivers (2326 yards 72% 16 TD 5 Int)
Rushing – T.A. McLendon (248 yards 5.6 avg 4 TD)
Receiving – Jerricho Cotchery (39 rec 678 yards 6 TD) Tramain Hall (37 rec 363 yards 2 TD) Richard Washington (29 rec 307 yards 3 TD)
Defense – Andre Maddox(84 tackles 5 TFL 2 sacks) Pat Thomas (61 tackles 7 TFL 4 sacks) Mario Williams (29 tackles 9 TFL 3 sacks)
Kicking – Austin Herbert (8-10 FG 30-31 XP)

Clemson

Passing – Charlie Whitehurst (1633 yards 63% 12 TD 6 Int)
Rushing – Duane Coleman (285 yards 4.3 avg 1 TD)
Receiving – Kevin Youngblood (38 rec 425 yards 2 TD) Derrick Hamilton (31 rec 475 yards 4 TD) Airese Currie (28 rec 376 yards 3 TD)
Defense – Leroy Hill (72 tackles 16 TFL 5 sacks) John Leake (65 tackles 6 TFL)
Kicking – Aaron Hunt (3-8 FG 16-18 XP)

Notable Team Statistics

NC State – Last in ACC in Kickoff Coverage, allowing 27 yards per return.
Clemson – First in ACC in Kickoff Return Yardage, averaging 28.4 yards per return

NC State - 46.1% 3rd-Down Conversion Rate, first in the ACC.
Clemson - allowing 37% conversions on 3rd-Down, sixth in the ACC.

Two Key Match-ups To Watch

When NC State has the ball…
RB T.A. McLendon vs. LBs LeRoy Hill and John Leake

Despite fighting nagging injuries thus far this season, NC State's sophomore TB TA McLendon was leading the ACC in yards-per-carry entering the Connecticut game and maintains a respectable 5. average. Last year,he had a coming-out party versus the Tigers, rushing for 178 yards and 2 touchdowns versus Clemson. This year's task could prove to be more difficult, with LBs LeRoy Hill and John Leake having outstanding seasons for Clemson out of their base 4-2-5 alignment. Stopping McLendon and the ground game, therefore making NC State one-dimensional, could be Clemson's best chance at victory in this year's contest. If NC State gets McLendon going early and forces Clemson out of its base package, the Wolfpack could go into the weekend back in the ACC Title race.

When Clemson has the ball…
WRs Derrick Hamilton/Kevin Youngblood vs. DBs Greg Golden/Dovonte Edwards/AJ Davis

Youngblood and Hamilton are having great seasons, and with their sidekick, Airese Currie, sidelined Thursday night, the play of these big, physical receivers will be even more important. The NC State trio has to be physical off the line of scrimmage and get in their "bumps," hoping it can throw off the Tigers timing-based passing offense. If Clemson's wideouts are more physical on the edges, QB Charlie Whitehurst could have a huge night going against a NC State defense that has struggled mightily. However, if NC State's backfield can matchup physically, it could give the young but talented NC State frontline more time to get to Whitehurst, who's not known for his running ability. The battle in the backfield could be the determining factor of the game.

Keep Your Eye On

NC State RB TA McLendon – Last year McLendon ran through the Clemson defense on his way to All-ACC Honors. This season he's not been healthy and at times his absence has been notable in the vaunted Wolfpack offensive attack. A healthy McLendon and NC State could win running away... if TA is injured early on, then watch out for the Tigers.

Clemson PK Aaron Hunt – Entering the season, Hunt was considered a strength but has struggled mightily this year, hitting on only 3 of 8 field goal attempts and 16 of 18 extra point attempts. If the game's on the line in the waning moments, can Bowden trust the foot of his embattled placekicker?

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