Clemson-N.C. State Betting Guide: Can Wolfpack Expose Tigers’ Defensive Flaws?

Clemson-N.C. State Betting Guide: Can Wolfpack Expose Tigers’ Defensive Flaws? article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Trevor Lawrence and Ryan Finley

N.C. State at Clemson Betting Pick, Odds

  • Odds: Clemson -18
  • Over/Under: 56
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of 7 a.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets

There are only eight undefeated teams left in college football in 2018:

  • Alabama (7-0)
  • Ohio State (7-0)
  • Notre Dame (7-0)
  • Clemson (6-0)
  • NC State (5-0)
  • Central Florida (6-0)
  • South Florida (6-0
  • Cincinnati (6-0)

The last three reside in the AAC East and will play each other. However, this much-anticipated Textile Bowl between Clemson and N.C. State will mark the last time two undefeated Power 5 teams meet this season — prior to the College Football Playoff.

Clemson has won six in a row in this annual rivalry matchup, and 13 of the last 14. N.C. State hasn’t won outright at Clemson since 2002, when Philip Rivers led them to a 38-6 rout to give the Wolfpack their best start in school history at 9-0.

While the Tigers have owned the straight-up results in the recent past, N.C. State has covered six of eight, all as an underdog.

Market Moves for Clemson-N.C. State

By Danny Donahue

Clemson is seeing just 29% of bets this weekend, the lowest support the Tigers have gotten since 2011. Despite that, they’ve moved from -17 to -17.5/-18 around most of the market behind 36% of dollars wagered.

Bettors have also taken a liking to the over, which has picked up 81% of bets and 84% of dollars, moving the total from 53.5 to 56 at Bookmaker.

Trends to Know

By John Ewing

Clemson is coming off a bye, which allows players to recover from injuries and gives coaches extra time to prepare. Since 2005, ranked teams playing at home after a bye have returned a profit of +25.62 units with a 59% win rate.

N.C. State is also coming off a bye, but it has still been profitable to wager on the home when both teams have rest: 20-14 ATS.

By Evan Abrams

Since 2005, when two undefeated teams meet in October or later with a spread of more than two touchdowns, the underdog has struggled.

When the spread is…

  • More than TD: 14-20-1 ATS (-6.7 units)
  • Double digits: 9-16-1 ATS (-7.4 units)
  • More than 2 TD: 5-11-1 ATS (-6.2 units)

As an undefeated, large underdog, N.C. State is receiving about 75% of the betting tickets against No. 3 Clemson on the road.

Since 2005, only 16 teams ranked in the top 3 have closed with less than 40% of betting tickets at home. Those teams are 4-12 ATS, failing to cover the spread by eight points per game.

Since 2010, the top 3 teams have lost eight of their last nine games ATS, with two of those teams losing outright (2015 Ohio State and 2011 Alabama).

Key Matchup: Clemson D-Line vs. N.C. State O-Line

By Stuckey

N.C. State doesn’t run the ball well at all (3.9 yards per carry ranks 99th nationally), but that won’t really matter against Clemson — which nobody can really run on. The Tigers’ defense allows the third-fewest yards per carry (2.49) in the country.

Clemson has been somewhat vulnerable in the secondary when opposing quarterbacks have had time to throw, as its defensive backfield remains the primary Achilles heel on that side of the ball. Per S&P+, Clemson’s defense ranks 70th in passing efficiency, which should excite senior quarterback Ryan Finley and the Wolfpack’s uber-efficient passing attack (fourth overall in passing efficiency).

Therefore, if the N.C. State offensive line can give Finley time, the Wolfpack should be able to move the ball down the field. This question will be answered by a matchup of both team’s primary strengths: Clemson’s elite defensive line (No. 4 Adjusted Sack Rate) vs. N.C. State’s outstanding offensive line (No. 3 Adjusted Sack Rate).

On the other side of the ball, much of the talk all year has been about Clemson’s quarterback situation, but don’t sleep on the run game.

The Tigers average 7.0 yards per rush attempt (second in nation). And while N.C. State has been above average defending the run (3.7 yards per rush — 39th nationally), it has been vulnerable to the big play on the ground, which could doom them against Travis Etienne and company.

How to Beat Clemson

By Steve Petrella

Everyone knew it before the season. And it’s still true today. Stuckey just talked about it. You can’t beat Clemson in the trenches, so you have to throw.

That should be good news for N.C. State. It throws. Really well. Finley is completing almost 70% of his passes at a solid 8.5 yards per attempt. The Wolfpack rank top 10 in passing efficiency and sack rate. Due to some combination of Finley and offensive line play, they rank first in blitz down efficiency and first in third-down percentage. So maybe N.C. State can somewhat neutralize Clemson’s unbelievably talented defensive line.

Trouble is, all those numbers have come against subpar competition. When four future NFL linemen are lining up across from you in a hostile environment, a few of those first downs might fall short.

Bet to Watch

By Ken Barkley

Of all the opinions I had before the season — some right, some wrong — none has been more wrong than my opinion of N.C. State. I figured there was no way with their lack of returning production that the Pack could succeed, even with Finley at quarterback.

But wait … have I really been proven wrong yet, even with the Wolfpack at 5-0 and in the Top 25?

With the West Virginia game being canceled, the most talented team N.C. State has played has been … Virginia? REALLY? My word.

The Pack’s five wins: James Madison, Georgia State, Marshall, Virginia, Boston College. When you take a week off and everyone loses, it sure makes you look a lot better by comparison, though!

If N.C. State’s talent dropped off as much as I expected, it wouldn’t even really show up until this week, right? Despite the fact that Clemson’s raw numbers contain the Texas A&M game (the best team either one of these programs have played), the Tigers still come out way ahead in all areas, and they have both a coaching advantage and a big special teams edge.

Recent history will lead people down a path of “well N.C. State just plays them close,” but as compelling as those trends sound, I’d rather just look at the information in front of me for these teams this season and make a value judgment.

The Wolfpack have at Syracuse, vs. FSU, vs. Wake, at Louisville, at UNC ad EU at home remaining this season. Almost all those games are tougher than anything they’ve played, so we’re about to finally learn meaningful things about this team.

I am guessing the results coincide more with my preseason projections than what we’ve seen thus far, and in this game specifically, I think there is a small amount of line value on Clemson.