Clemson’s offense has looked totally inept so far this season. DJ Uiagalelei has not lived up to the expectations set for him coming into this season but it’s mostly the Tigers’ offensive line and run game that has been the issue. It was always going to be a struggle replacing Trevor Lawrence and Travis Ettienne in the same offense but things are moving much slower than Dabo expected. If you leave out Clemson’s game against FCS South Carolina State, DJ has a stat line of 304 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT in their two games against FBS opponents. Clemson’s defense has still been phenomenal this year, but NC State QB Will Leary could really test them as he continues a season where he has put up huge numbers through 3 games.
While Clemson has been great on defense and struggled on offense, NC State has been successful on both sides of the ball. They are 4th in the country in red-zone defense which should really hurt a Clemson offense already struggling to score TDs. They are also 12th in the country in opponent third-down conversion rate. This is interesting because it is one of the only categories in which the Clemson defense has struggled. They are 99th in opp. 3rd down conversion rate and the NC State offense is 14th in 3rd down conversion rate. That means the NC State offense should be able to stay on the field for extended drives where they drain the clock and control possession. Meanwhile, the Clemson offense should really struggle to get first downs and score touchdowns when they do move the ball.
This is a huge home game for NC State and I expect their crowd to be insane for this game which is effectively their Super Bowl this season. I like NC State close to keep this is a one-possession game and have a chance to win late just like Georgia Tech did last week.