The only battle of Top 10 teams this weekend is happening in the ACC when the 5th-ranked Clemson Tigers (4-0) and the 10th-ranked NC State Wolfpack (4-0) square off inside Memorial Stadium.
Clemson dominated this series over the last decade, winning every game between 2012-2019. The Wolfpack beat Clemson 27-21 in overtime last season. Clemson will look to reassert its dominance while NC State will look to prove it is a legitimate contender to the ACC crown.
IB’s team has broken down the game and is ready to make our predictions!
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Clemson 34, NC State 24
I’d like to go with the Wolfpack here, as I always enjoy a good upset, but I just don’t see it. Clemson got shredded last week in a 51-46 overtime win over Wake Forest, but NC State’s offense hasn’t been nearly as explosive or dynamic this season. It will need to be, as the Wolfpack defense is solid, but likely not able to shut down the Clemson offense the way it did a season ago.
NC State quarterback Devin Leary is the key for the Wolfpack. He’s a very talented player and when he’s on the Wolfpack are hard to beat. Leary has been a bit inconsistent this season, and he was downright dreadful against Texas Tech. If NC State is going to have a chance to pull off this upset the line will need to give him time and he’ll need to be aggressive and on point.
Clemson QB DJ Uiagelelei has been much better this season, but this will be the best defense he has played so far this season. NC State has been decent getting after the quarterback, but it will need to be at its best against the Tigers. Slowing down the ground attack is key for NC State, which would force Clemson to be more pass oriented. When Clemson is balanced their offense is quite good, and NC State needs to not allow that to happen.
Prediction: Clemson 21, NC State 17
I am still not sold on Clemson’s offense and they proved that their pass defense can be a liability against Wake Forest last week. Their run defense is still rock solid and I think it will be tough for a one dimensional Wolfpack team to overcome that. Clemson will do just enough to win this game but it will be close throughout and should be a fun watch.
SHAUN DAVIS, RECRUITING ANALYST
Prediction: Clemson 23, NC State 20
After winning in Winston-Salem, Clemson could give itself a considerable advantage by beating another division rival. Meanwhile, NC State would get off to a great ACC start by taking down the Tigers. Weather will be a factor, so the unpredictability of turnovers will almost certainly come into play. But it also could favor the team that can put together some semblance of a running game. The Wolfpack pass rush has been pretty good this season and should be able to stymie the Clemson passing attack. However, I think Clemson will have more success on the ground led by Will Shipley and Phil Mafah. The rain may hinder both teams’ pass rush, but the Tigers’ defensive talent will show through enough in this game and pressure Leary into a couple of mistakes.
SEAN STIRES, STAFF WRITER
Prediction: Clemson 27, NC State 24
NC State beat Clemson in 2 OT last year, with QB Devin Leary accounting for four touchdowns. Clemson’s secondary has struggled, but the remnants of Hurricane Ian could make this game interesting.
RYAN ROBERTS, DIRECTOR OF RECRUITING
Prediction: Clemson 28, NC State 16
Clemson had a tough one last week against Wake Forest, eventually escaping with a 51-45 victory last weekend. The silver lining was a dynamic day from DJ Uiagalelei under center. He has played a ton better than let season.
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NC State is a fun team who boasts a solid all around squad. They, also, will keep this game close for a while. I’m just not a believer in the Wolfpack to this level. It’s a hard fought defensive effort for a while until Clemson pulls away.
ANDREW McDONOUGH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Clemson 24, NC State 20
Coming into the season, the Wolfpack offense, led by QB Devin Leary, got all the attention. However, it’s actually been the NC State defense that has carried this team. NC State is allowing only 261.5 YPG, 25% third-down conversions, and is tied for the ACC lead in takeaways. The level of difficulty gets ratcheted up this week, though, as #5 Clemson and DJ Uiagalelei present a tough matchup. Uiagalelei played one of the best games of his career last week against Wake Forest in a 51-45 overtime win, and I expect him to take care of the ball against the NC State defense. On the flip side, the Clemson secondary can’t play worse than last week against Wake Forest, and I expect defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin to make some adjustments to protect his young corners. This one will be close the entire way, but Clemson finds a way to win at home and avenges last season’s surprising loss.
IB STAFF STANDINGS
Bryan – 15-4
Vince – 14-5
Shaun – 13-6
Sean – 13-6
Ryan – 13-6
Andrew – 11-8
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