The no. 5 Clemson Tigers will look to extend their winning streak to 25 games and continue their title defense as they hit the road to face the NC State Wolfpack in a rivalry game known as the Textile Bowl. Kickoff is set for 7:30 EST on Saturday, November 9 at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina. The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC.
Not surprisingly, the Tigers are heavy 31.5-point favorites over the Wolfpack. The over/under for the game is set at 53.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of this week’s betting odds and previews for all of the marquee college football games this weekend.
Despite having the nation’s longest current winning streak and being a perfect 9-0 on the season, Clemson is outside the top-4 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. It’s not a surprise given how weak the ACC is this season and Clemson’s lack of quality wins. However, outside of a close call against North Carolina, the Tigers have taken care of business week after week. Clemson should get bigger tests late in the season against Wake Forest and South Carolina, as well as the ACC Championship Game. In the meantime, they’ll just have to trust that if they remain undefeated, they’ll have a place in the CFP. That being said, one loss and the Tigers will be all but out of contention to defend their championship.
NC State, on the other hand, has a completely different set of problems. The Wolfpack is coming off a blowout loss at the hands of rival Wake Forest last week. They have now lost three of their last four games since the start of ACC play, dropping the to 4-4 on the season. Dave Doeren has taken the Wolfpack to a bowl game in five straight seasons, but that streak appears to be in jeopardy. Things get a little easier for NC State with three of their final four games at home. However, coming off last week’s lopsided loss, the last thing the Wolfpack wants to see right now is a top-5 team coming into Raleigh.
As mentioned, this rivalry game is known as the Textile Bowl, which dates back to 1899. Clemson owns the all-time series by a wide margin and has been the dominant force in the rivalry for most of the current century. The Tigers have won 14 of their last 15 head-to-head matches with NC State, including seven in a row. Last year’s meeting got a little out of control with Clemson cruising to a 41-7 win. But the Wolfpack has usually been able to keep things close with the Tigers when playing at home, even if they haven’t defeated Clemson since 2011.
Will Clemson feel disrespected about being outside the top-5 and be looking to make a statement to the CFP committee by steamrolling NC State? That’s certainly possible. More importantly, the Tigers are head and shoulders better than the Wolfpack. Outside of the close call against North Carolina, all of Clemson’s wins during ACC play have come by over 30 points. With that in mind, I like my chances with the Tigers being able to cover.
At times, the NC State defense has been a strength of the team, but that’s not been the case lately. The Wolfpack gave up 45 points against Boston College and 44 points against Wake Forest in their most recent games. West Virginia also posted 44 points against NC State earlier in the season. Most teams have done their damage against the Wolfpack through the air. But there have been a couple of games when NC State’s talented defensive line has been pushed around and gashed on the ground.
Clemson has the luxury of being able to beat teams with either their passing game or rushing attack, usually both. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence hasn’t had the season most were expecting, in part because he’s been loose with the ball and thrown eight interceptions. But he can still sling it all over the field. Plus, he’s only been sacked five times this season and has receivers who are almost impossible to defend at times.
Just for good measure, the Tigers have one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country. Travis Etienne averages nine yards per carry and is a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Since Lawrence and the passing game pose such a huge threat, it’s almost impossible for teams to stack the box against him. Given the trouble that NC State has had against Boston College and Wake Forest in recent weeks, I’d be surprised if the Tigers didn’t top 50 points for the fourth time this year.
Meanwhile, I’m not expecting much from the NC State offense. The Wolfpack has tried three different starting quarterbacks this year and none have worked. Devin Leary got a chance to start against Wake Forest last week and was a disaster. He completed just 17 of his 45 passes for a mere 149 yards. The NC State running game is nothing special either. Against a Clemson defense conceding less than 12 points per game, it’s hard to envision the Wolfpack finding the red zone too frequently. I wouldn’t even rule out a shutout by the Clemson defense.
To be honest, this could end up being one of Clemson’s biggest blowouts of the season. I know road games under the lights can be tricky. But there’s too much of a talent disparity between these teams. The Wolfpack might be one of the two or three worst teams in the ACC this season. Clemson should pull away in the second half and I think there’s a good chance the Tigers cover 31.5 points.