Tue, 29 Nov 2022

No. 5 Clemson, No. 10 NC state meet in ACC showdown

Field Level Media
28 Sep 2022, 06:40 GMT+10

Clemson has been in its share of high-stakes showdowns in recent years.

For the second consecutive week, the No. 5 Tigers will be matched with another nationally ranked Atlantic Coast Conference team.

This time, the stakes loom even larger as No. 10 North Carolina State visits for Saturday night's clash at Clemson, S.C. Both teams hold 4-0 records, with Clemson 2-0 in ACC play and NC State preparing for its first league game.

Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren is calling the matchup the biggest in his 10 seasons with the team.

"It's two top 10 teams competing on a national stage," Doeren said. "That's why we do this. The kids have worked hard. The staff has worked hard, and we expected to be in this position. We expected to be 4-0 going into Clemson. We look forward to playing a great team."

As of Tuesday, the game remained on schedule despite the potential impact from Hurricane Ian, which is projected to make landfall in Florida late Wednesday night or early Thursday.

NC State hasn't won at Clemson since 2002, when it last held a top 10 ranking.

Last season, the Wolfpack pulled out an overtime victory against the Tigers to snap an eight-game losing streak in the series.

Clemson will challenge NC State's stout defense. The Tigers have 175 points this season, marking their highest total through four games under coach Dabo Swinney.

"Four games don't make a season," said Swinney, who saw his Clemson team post the least amount of points through four games during his tenure with 87 last season. "There's a long way to go."

Swinney has defended quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei through some past snafus. Based on last weekend's double-overtime victory against reigning ACC Atlantic Division champion Wake Forest, Uiagalelei can hold his own.

"I know how talented this kid is," Swinney said. "This is not theory. It's not some pie in the sky. I've watched him. I just have a belief in him. After four games, if you don't recognize this kid's special ability, then you're blind."

Swinney's teams are 100-20 against ACC competition.

The Wolfpack defeated top 10 Clemson teams in 1987, 1988 and 2011. This is the first meeting with both teams in the top 10 and only the fifth matchup with both teams ranked.

"We're going to embrace the opportunity being there," Doeren said. "We know a lot comes with it. I think it's something to celebrate, for sure. It's not something to say we've arrived yet because the rankings at the end of the season matter a lot more than they do at the end of the fourth week."

It's the first time the Wolfpack have ever played in a game with both teams in the top 10. NC State has put together an experienced roster, counting on team veterans to hold it together in Death Valley.

"They can be calm in the midst of a storm and get guys to settle down if they need to," Doeren said. "That experience is something that I value a lot because I've had teams that were the opposite.

This is NC State's first road game since a one-point escape to open the season at East Carolina.

"We want to play confident, too," Wolfpack linebacker Drake Thomas said. "We want to play with a little bit of swagger."

NC State quarterback Devin Leary has thrown 60 touchdown passes this season, tying for fourth in the school's career list.

Clemson running back Will Shipley is fourth in ACC rushing with an average of 88.3 yards per game. His seven touchdowns (all on rushing plays) share the conference lead.

This is NC State's first visit to Clemson since 2018 because of the reconfigured 2020 schedule during the pandemic.

--Field Level Media

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