N.C. State Wolfpack at Clemson Tigers, Saturday Oct. 15, Noon ET
The Tigers started the season on top of the world. They were runner-ups last year, and they had the Heisman favorite at quarterback. But then things went south. Not Oklahoma-style of south - the Tigers are still unbeaten and in prime playoff position. They just didn't instill a lot of confidence after narrowly beating Auburn and just barely handling Troy, though. People lost faith.
Since then they have been slowly working to rehabilitate their reputation - a crucial thing to do if there are more potential playoff teams than playoff spots. They won a spectacular game against Louisville two weeks back - one of the best of the whole season. Then last week they absolutely dominated Boston College, looking as expected on both sides of the ball. Recaptured form combined with the struggles of Florida State and the win over Louisville puts Clemson in full command of the ACC and in very good playoff position. They have to keep winning, though, and against decent teams like N.C. State they also need to score some style points in the win.
N.C. State at Clemson Betting Storylines
The biggest thing we have learned about the Wolfpack so far is that they aren't bothered by bad weather. Last week at home against Notre Dame the remnants of the hurricane forced the game to be played in nearly impossible conditions. It was really ugly. So was the game. They won 10-3. While they didn't show a lot on either side of the ball because of the weather, and while beating Notre Dame right now is hardly a major accomplishment, it still showed some toughness that can be useful here. They do some things pretty well. Boise State grad transfer QB Ryan Finley is having a decent season, senior running back Matt Dayes can gain yards, they are well coached, and their defense is serviceable when it needs to be. Still, especially given the location of this game, you have to believe that the question here isn't so much whether the Wolfpack can pull off a blowout win but whether they can keep it close enough to cover a fairly large spread here.
It's dangerous to look back at past games between college teams to try to learn anything about this game - so much changes from year to year in college football that the past means little. Last year's showdown, though, is worth at least a quick look. N.C. State came into the game with a Top 3 national defense. They were playing shut-down football. Clemson put up 623 yards, and Deshaun Watson threw for 383 yards and five touchdowns while running for 54 yards and another score. Not a bad day overall. At that point Clemson had some real answers for the Wolfpack. It's not hard to believe that they will again. Clemson surely knows that another big performance like last year would go a long way towards securing their playoff berth for the long term.
N.C. State at Clemson Odds and Betting Trends
The Tigers opened as 17.5-point favorites, and that has remained stable in early action despite very lopsided action - Clemson has drawn about four in five early bets. We could see some movement in the line, but it's unlikely that we will see significant change given the action.
The Wolfpack are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall but just 1-5 ATS in their last six against teams with winning records. They are a lousy 2-5 ATS in their last seven games following a straight up win. The Tigers have covered the spread in their last four conference games and their last four games in October. They are 5-1 ATS in their last six at home and 6-1 ATS in their last seven against teams with winning records.
N.C. State at Clemson Predictions and Picks
I believe in Clemson. Mostly. They are very talented and are starting to remember that. The Wolfpack has a nice offense, though, and has shown some toughness on defense - especially in key situations like third down. Clemson is absolutely going to win. With the line available above the key number of 17, though, I'm seeing the value in taking a shot at taking the points and riding the underdog here. N.C. State overcame some real adversity to win last weekend, and I expect some momentum to be created out of that. They are a decent team that knows they have nothing to lose. They can keep it close - or at least close enough.
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