Notebook: Clemson Up Next

NC State (1-2) returns to the gridiron this weekend against Clemson (3-0). Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. and the game will be televised on LFS.

NC State and Clemson have met 75 times on the gridiron since the series began in 1899, the third oldest ACC series for the Wolfpack. The Tigers hold a 47-27-1 advantage all-time and have won the last three meetings.

In games played in Raleigh, Clemson holds a slight 16-15 margin (10-9 in Carter-Finley Stadium).

Although not many of the players in uniform know about it, for the past 27 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 scholarship fund every year in honor of the Wolfpack's MVP from the game.

Clemson posts a 17-9 advantage in the Textile Bowl.

Although this week's game will mark the first time that Tom O'Brien has coached against Clemson while wearing red and white, he does have two games and two victories under his belt against the Tigers while wearing maroon and gold.

O'Brien's Boston College team faced Clemson each of his last two years with the Eagles, and both times the teams were tied at the end of regulation. In 2005, Boston College traveled to Clemson for its first ACC road game (its second ACC game) and came back with its first ACC victory - a 16-13 overtime win.

Last season, the Eagles opened their conference slate at home against Clemson, and this time had to go into two overtimes to earn a 34-33 victory.

In the past decade, the games between NC State and Clemson have for the most part been ‘made for tv' - with eight of the 10 coming down to the wire. With the exception of Clemson's 31-10 victory in Raleigh in 2005 and the Wolfpack's 38-6 romp at Clemson in 2002, the other eight games between the two teams in the last decade have been decided by eight points or less, five have been decided by six points or less and two have been decided by two points.

In the last five games played at Carter-Finley Stadium, the score has been decided by an average of 7.4 points.

Tailback Toney Baker was the star for the Wolfpack in last year's contest at Clemson, but his career-high 174 yards and 34 carries wasn't enough as the Tigers won, 20-14. The Wolfpack offense scored just seven points in the game, as Baker rushed for a one-yard touchdown and defensive end Willie Young scored on a 34-yard interception return.

NC State's nine-game losing streak ended on Saturday with a 38-17 win over Wofford. It marked the Wolfpack's first win since October 5, 2006 (Florida State). That streak tied for the longest losing streak for NC State since 1959, when Earle Edwards' squad also lost nine straight.

NC State's defense has been tremendous on third down so far this season, holding opponents to an ACC best third-down conversion mark of .220. That mark also ranks seventh nationally this week. The Wolfpack has allowed its first three opponents to convert on just 11 of 50 third down attempts, including Wofford's 3-17 mark on Saturday.

A big factor behind the Wolfpack's defensive prowess on third down has been it's success on first and second down. NC State's three opponents have needed an average of 7.16 yards to convert on third down this season.

NC State's opposition has gained three yards or less on first down 41 times this season and has gained no yards or been knocked for a loss on first down 26 times. On second down, Mike Archer's defense has held the opponent to three or less 38 times and to zero or negative yards 19 times.

NC State will faced its first ranked opponent of the year when 15th-ranked Clemson comes to Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday. (Boston College, NC State's opponent just two weeks ago, is now ranked a notch ahead of the Tigers in this week's AP and Coaches' polls).

Prior to last week's win over Wofford, the Wolfpack's previous win had been against a ranked team. In fact, NC State's last two victories before the nine-game losing streak had been over ranked teams, as the Pack defeated No. 20 Boston College and No. 17 Florida State in back-to-back home games last season before falling nine straight times.

It didn't take long for true freshman linebacker Thomas Barnes to make an impact at NC State. If you asked the Dublin, Ga., native, he would probably say it took TOO long, as he didn't see action in the first or second games of the year. But on Saturday against Wofford, when senior starter LeRue Rumph left the game with an injury, Barnes finally got the call. He was in for two plays (which went unnoticed by the crew in the press box) and then lined up at strongside linebacker on a third-and-nine play from Wofford's own 15-yardline. End Willie Young jarred the ball loose from the Terrier quarterback and Barnes got his career off to an auspicious beginning by scooping it up at the five and showed the skills he learned as a high school fullback by taking it into the endzone for the Wolfpack's second touchdown of the day.

But Barnes wasn't done. He ended up playing 61 more snaps (64 total) and tallying eight tackles for the night - including seven solo stops.

Barnes should get more time to mature this week against Clemson, as Rumph may miss time with the injury.

A big part of the Wolfpack's ability to snap it's nine-game losing streak was it's ability to effectively run the football in Saturday's win over Wofford. NC State ran for 217 yards in the contest, it's highest rushing total since the 2005 season when the Pack ran for 297 yards against Southern Miss (10/29/05). Andre Brown led the way with 133 yards rushing (as well as three touchdowns), while Jamelle Eugene added 38, freshman Curtis Underwood had 32 and quarterback Harrison Beck had 18.

NC State scored four rushing touchdowns in the game, the most for the Pack since scoring four TDs on the ground against North Carolina in 2003. Hopefully, that improved rushing total signifies the solidification of the Pack's offensive line. Coached by Don Horton, who named the second-best offensive line coach in the nation, NC State's OL had five players on the opening day two-deep who had never played a collegiate game and another who had seen action in just two contests.

Only four players had ever started a game before the Central Florida game and those four had combined for just 38 starts.

Junior tailback Andre Brown led the way for the Wolfpack against Wofford with 133 yards on 21 carries - his first 100-yard rushing game since he had 113 yards in the win over Florida State on October 5, 2006 (ironically, that was the Wolfpack's last win before Saturday).

Brown scored three touchdowns in the victory, tying with 14 other Wolfpack players for the fifth-highest rushing touchdown total in school history. Brown now ranks fourth in the ACC in rushing for the season with 89.7 yards per game and is tied for sixth in scoring.

For his career, Brown, who is on the preseason ‘watch' list for the Doak Walker Award, has 1,594 yards, just one yard from tying for 14th in school history in rushing.

Eight different Wolfpack players saw their first collegiate action in Saturday's win over Wofford and 26 players have had their NC State debut so far this season. Five true freshmen have played so far for Tom O'Brien: LB Thomas Barnes, DT Markus Kuhn, WR Owen Spencer, HB Curtis Underwood and OT Jake Vermiglio.

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