Clemson vs NC State: Only eight undefeated teams remain in the FBS — and two of them face off Saturday in a game that could decide the ACC’s Atlantic Division. No. 3 Clemson will host a showdown against No. 16 North Carolina State in a battle for dominion over the Carolinas and a potential spot in the College Football Playoff.
The Tigers have been the circled date on every opponent’s calendar as they fight toward their fourth-straight appearance in college football’s final four. Clemson lost the 2016 National Championship Game, won the 2017 edition, and then fell short in last year’s Sugar Bowl to the eventual champion, Alabama.
Dabo Swinney’s team is on track for another appearance in the games that matter most, but the Tigers have taken a rocky road to get there. Clemson escaped a pair of upset bids against Texas A&M and Syracuse earlier in the season to throw their championship credentials into question. Now the team will face its toughest test of the season — no team left on the 2018 Tiger schedule is currently ranked — and the difference between a win and a loss Saturday could also be the difference between playing for a national title and just a New Year’s bowl.
Clemson hasn’t exactly overwhelmed in 2018 given their preseason expectations, but the Tigers are still the No. 2 team in this week’s S&P+ Rankings. The Wolfpack, despite a 6-0 start, are stuck back at No. 19. But Clemson is vulnerable, and may have only avoided last week’s wacky slate of upsets because it was their bye. The preseason predictor pegged this as a 21-point win for the home team — but let’s get weird and throw things back to 2011, when NC State beat No. 7 Clemson at home.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
- TV: ESPN
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: Clemson is favored by 17 points.
Clemson vs. NC State news:
- Saturday marks NC State’s biggest opportunity yet to change the perception surrounding its program.
- Is the still-alive Ray Guy haunting Clemson? (yes)
- The Wolfpack have squandered a whole bunch of scoring opportunities this fall. Doing that against Clemson will ruin their unbeaten streak.
- It didn’t seem like it at the time, but 10 years ago the Tigers made the leap from “good” to “great.”
Outside of Clemson and NC State, the ACC has spent much of the 2018 season crumbling in upon itself like a house with graham cracker walls. That’s taken a pickaxe to the Tigers’ opportunities to notch quality wins. While that won’t be an issue if a 13-0 team claims the ACC title and pairs it with Swinney’s recent resume, a one-loss Tiger team could wind up on the chopping block if the CFP selection committee takes a look at the Clemson record and fails to see a single team that finished its regular season in the top 20 under the “wins” heading.