In their last trip to Carter-Finley Stadium in 2011, the Clemson Tigers saw their promising season quickly dissipate in a 37-13 loss, highlighted by four total turnovers. This year, the red-hot No. 3 Tigers face a similar situation after toppling Georgia, but are hoping for a far better result as they meet the N.C. State Wolfpack on Thursday night.
With a record of 2-0, the Tigers are 16th in the nation and scoring 45 points a game. Senior quarterback Tajh Boyd has led the offense with 439 passing yards and three touchdowns in the air and on the ground. Reserve quarterback Cole Stoudt also added three touchdowns in the 52-13 win over South Carolina State in relief last week.
The loss at Carter-Finley in 2011 was an ugly one for the offense. Boyd was responsible for two of those four turnovers, and the Tigers suffered without star receiver Sammie Watkins, who sat out with a shoulder injury.
In 2013, Watkins leads the team with nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown, and Boyd is on pace for his third consecutive season of 30 or more touchdown passes.
The Wolfpack also enter the matchup 2-0, and are rested after a 40-14 trouncing of Louisiana Tech, and a battle-tested 23-21 win over Richmond. Unlike the Tigers, N.C. State's offense has come from the running game.
The Wolfpack are averaging 212 rushing yards a game, and have scored five rushing touchdowns compared to just one in the air. Freshman Matt Dyes and junior Tony Creecy have led the charge with four of those scores and 230 rushing yards.
Junior transfer quarterback Pete Thomas hasn’t found the end zone yet, going 39-for-58 for 449 yards and three interceptions, and he faces a Clemson secondary led by junior defensive back Martin Jenkins and corner Darius Robinson.
That duo will have to limit the Wolfpack receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Rashard Smith, who have combined for 24 catches and 319 yards.
The N.C. State defense does have a solid pass rush to counter Boyd. Defensive tackles Thomas Teal, Carlos Gray, and T.Y. McGill, along with end Art Norman all have one sack, and the Wolfpack have also forced six fumbles.
The game kicks-off at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by ESPN, or watch a live online stream at Watch ESPN here.
Betting Odds: Clemson favored by 14 points.
Over/Under: 66.5 points
Prediction: Clemson 27, NC State 20