CFN's Take: NC State vs. Clemson

The College Football News staff takes a closer look at this weekend's game between NC State (1-2) and Clemson (3-0).

Clemson (3-0) at NC State (1-2)  12:00 PM GamePlan
Why to Watch: Is Clemson really ready to be a true ACC title contender? Can it be consistent enough to bring the intensity week in and week out?  In ACC play, few are better when the spotlight is on, but against an inferior opponent like NC State, that’s when things usually get interesting for Tommy Bowden’s clubs. The Wolfpack ran the ball well last week in the win over Wofford, and while that might not mean much, if it can establish itself on the ground early on, this could be a battle for longer than the Tigers might like.
Why Clemson Might Win: When did Cullen Harper become Matt Leinart? With the improvement in the passing game, to go along with the devastating ground attack, Clemson now has a dangerous offensive arsenal that can beat teams several different ways. Harper has completed 72.5% of his passes, is fourth in the nation in passing efficiency (205.0) and hasn’t thrown an interception during his collegiate career, spanning 156 attempts. NC State has been run over by everyone so far, including by Wofford, and will be again this week. This won’t be Harper’s game, but he’ll have the Pack thinking about him enough to open things up for James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
Why NC State Might Win: The triumph over Wofford featured a couple of positives. First, the Wolfpack ran for 217 yards, led by sturdy tailback Andre Brown. Second, QB Harrison Beck didn’t toss an interception, after he threw six in the first two games. If Brown and Beck deliver, the Pack has just enough balance to keep things moving and still untested Tiger D. The Tiger offensive line has struggled in pass protection so far, so if the State line can somehow get to Harper early, the game might take on a different shape.
Who to Watch: When Clemson fans think of the number 20, they remember former All-America (and current All-Pro) safety Brian Dawkins. These days, No. 20 is senior linebacker Tremaine Billie, who missed all of last season after injuring his ankle during pre-season practices. He has 16 tackles in three games, including six (and two QB pressures) against Florida State, as he’s reestablished himself as one the ACC’s best playmakers. With Billie in the lineup, the Tigers are 16-5.
What Will Happen: Filled with confidence after their win over Wofford and playing at home, NC State will put up a fight, but Clemson has too much talent to blow its great start now. The Pack simply doesn’t have enough offensive playmakers, and Beck is too shaky, to beat a team this good.
CFN Prediction: Clemson 31 ... NC State 17 .. Line: Clemson -7.5
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ...


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