Why to watch: Georgia Tech is the hottest team in the ACC. Clemson is just a few degrees cooler. The Tigers have rebounded from back-to-back losses a month ago, winning four in-a-row to take control of the Atlantic Division and breaking into the Top 25. Saturday night's come-from-behind win over Florida State was the best evidence yet that this Tiger team isn't like the last few editions that raised expectations before failing to reach the bar. It took over a month and some frustrating moments, but NC State has finally stopped the hemorrhaging associated with a four-game losing streak. The Wolfpack got past Maryland last weekend to remain alive for bowl eligibility, but with Virginia Tech and North Carolina still to come, it'll need to deliver an upset this weekend.
Why Clemson might win: Everything appears to be clicking in Death Valley these days. The defense has been fantastic, RB C.J. Spiller is excelling through pain, and QB Kyle Parker has thrown seven touchdown passes in recent games with Florida State and Miami. The Tigers' biggest edge will occur when they have the ball, feasting on a Wolfpack defense that's running out of healthy bodies and has been beaten for at least 30 points in each of the last six games. The playmaking ability of Spiller, backup RB Andre Ellington, and WR Jacoby Ford will be too much for a State D operating on fumes.
Why NC State might win: You really never know what you're going to get from the Clemson program, especially on the road. The Tigers are 1-2 away from home, losing to lowly Maryland a month ago. The Pack's hopes, as usual, rest on the right arm of QB Russell Wilson. Although he's regressed a bit in his sophomore year, he's still a dangerous distributor, who can also tuck it and run. No. 2 in the ACC in total offense, he has three reliable targets in TE George Bryan and receivers Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams. The NC State offense has been held in check just twice all season, averaging more than 33 points a game.
Who to watch: This is going to be Wilson's toughest test of the year. Clemson has a terrific secondary that's picked off 11 passes in the last four games alone and is the reason the school is No. 6 nationally in pass defense. Safeties DeAndre McDaniel and Rashard Hall have combined for 13 interceptions, and corners Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor are two of the best in the league. If Wilson is going to engineer something special, he'll have to be very careful with his reads.
What will happen: This is a bad match up for NC State. Yeah, Clemson can make you look silly when you least expect it, but not this weekend. The Tigers ability to blanket receivers and pressure the passer will neutralize State's only chance for the upset. With a handful of short-field opportunities, courtesy of turnovers and special teams, Spiller, Parker, and the offense will punch it in to get the winning streak to five games.
CFN Prediction: Clemson 35 … NC State 21 ... Line: Clemson -7
Must See Rating: (The Legend of Jimmy the Greek 5 … 2012 1) … 2.5