NC State vs. Clemson Odds & Picks for College Football Week 2: Can Wolfpack Pull Upset At Home?

NC State vs. Clemson Odds & Picks for College Football Week 2: Can Wolfpack Pull Upset At Home? article feature image
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Photo Credit: Lance King/Getty Images. Pictured: NC State Wolfpack football team

  • North Carolina State hosts Clemson in its first ACC game of the season.
  • The Wolfpack are coming off a beating of Furman, while the Tigers barley escaped Georgia Tech.
  • Collin Wilson has everything covered from this game, including a preview and a pick.

NC State vs. Clemson Odds

NC State Odds +10.5 (-115)
Clemson Odds -10.5 (-105)
Moneyline +310 / -410
Over/Under 47.5 (-105 / -115)
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

When Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney stated at his press conference, “I can assure you we don’t stink; we’re going to be alright,” he was referring to his offense that struggled out of the gate.

A rank outside the top 75 in numerous categories from explosiveness to Finishing Drives has the fanbase in a frenzy. The Tigers scored zero touchdowns against Georgia and just two against Georgia Tech, both on the ground by running back Will Shipley.

Thankfully for Tigers fans, the Clemson defense has been the saving grace by not allowing any opponent an offensive touchdown through three games.

NC State presents a stiff test for the Tigers, entering the season with one of the highest marks in TARP. The blemish of the season came at Mississippi State two weeks ago with a kickoff return touchdown and three offensive turnovers.

The Bulldogs exited the game with an 83% postgame win expectancy, but it does nothing to deter investors from a talented and experienced Wolfpack squad.

The betting odds are in complete contrast from Clemson’s season, with the Tigers favored by double digits.


Clemson vs. NC State Betting Preview

Saturday, Sept. 25
3:30 p.m. ET
ESPN

Clemson Tigers

Establishing the Run

The Clemson running back room stayed patient through years of Travis Etienne listed at the top of the depth chart. No player was as patient as Lyn-J Dixon, the upperclassman who flashed elusiveness and averaged 4.0 yards after contact last season.

Dixon hit the transfer portal on Tuesday after conflicts with running backs coach CJ Spiller that resulted in limited playing time. The net result will be more snaps for Michel Dukes and Kobe Pace.

Clemson has generated a 57% Success Rate in rushing attempts and has been stuffed 6% less than the national average.

The biggest issue for Clemson is a lack of big play, as the team posted just two explosive drives in 35 offensive possessions this season.

DJ Uiagalelei throws a bullet to Joe Ngata on the WR screen. Too hard and too high. The ball is intercepted. More examples of lack of touch. All goes back to him finding his rhythm and confidence. And learning when to be Maddux vs Smoltz. @radioguyhouston pic.twitter.com/f6mpihrL8e

— Morgan Thomas (@TheMorganTShow) September 15, 2021


Conflict in the Passing Game

There have been two separate issues in the passing game that have plagued Clemson through the first quarter of the season.

First, quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has not had rhythm with any of his wide receivers.

Justyn Ross has been targeted 21 times this season, more than any other player for Clemson. Growing pains should be expected after Ross returned from a neck injury that eliminated his 2020 season and limited his August training camp.

Second in targets is Joseph Ngata, who received just 10 targets total last season. Uiagalelei and Ngata connected just once in the Notre Dame game last season.

The second issue is the offensive line in pass protection. Clemson ranks 93rd in Havoc Allowed and 65th in pass blocking, per PFF. More than half of the Tigers’ dropbacks have had a pressured pocket, resulting in a 28% drop in Uiagalelei’s adjusted completion percentage.

Of all FBS offensive linemen to record at least 150 snaps, Clemson fields three players in the bottom 200 in pass blocking in Will Putnam, Walker Parks and Marcus Tate. The biggest reason for the blip in pass protection is communication, as the offensive line personnel feels confident heading into the NC State game.

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NC State Wolfpack

Offensive Execution and Turnovers

NC State head coach Dave Doeren took full credit for the road loss to Mississippi State, but multiple turnovers and poor red-zone execution were the main culprits.

While the Wolfpack are one of the more experienced teams in the country, they rank outside the top 80 in big play percentage and hover around the national average in passing downs Success Rate.

A deeper dive into the numbers shows that Devin Leary has been fantastic this season, producing 11 big-time throws to just two turnover-worthy plays.

A few pass plays from the Furman contest.

This was my favorite throw of the night from Devin Leary. Thayer Thomas runs the bender in 4 verts versus a split safety look. Timing and anticipation of this throw is critical as Thayer works across multiple windows. pic.twitter.com/6m5N8hj25C

— Phillip Danford (@PDanford21) September 22, 2021

The rushing attack has yet to establish any dominance before the biggest test of the season against the Clemson defensive front.

NC State will split carries between Ricky Person Jr. and Zonovan Knight, as the two have combined for 29 missed tackles created, with Knight generating three times as many explosive runs.

NC State ranks 14th in Line Yards with an offensive line that rotates up to eight different players. The Clemson defense has the top ranking in FBS at Finishing Drives, shutting down possessions that cross the 40.

The Wolfpack have scored 10 touchdowns on 14 red-zone trips, making this the key factor in determining how many points the home underdog will put on the board.


Exposing the Clemson Offensive Line

NC State has one of the best defenses in the ACC outside of Clemson, and there are plenty of numbers to suggest that the Tigers’ offensive struggles will continue.

The Wolfpack rank 15th in tackling, which coincides with a defensive big play rate in the top 30.

As Clemson is the best defense in the country in Finishing Drives, NC State isn’t far behind — the Wolfpack rank seventh in the country.

If there is an advocate for the under, Clemson allows 1.1 points per trip through 40 versus NC State at 1.9 points for Defensive Finishing Drives. A top-30 mark in Defensive Passing Success Rate will be a hurdle for the Tigers, who struggle on passing downs.

Helmet catch INT! @TannerIngle | @PackFootball pic.twitter.com/UpLhkRfS2H

— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) September 3, 2021


Clemson vs. NC State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Clemson and NC State match up statistically:

Clemson Offense vs. NC State Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
47
15
Line Yards
37
73
Pass Success
91
29
Pass Blocking**
65
113
Big Play
27
27
Havoc
93
66
Finishing Drives
85
7
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

NC State Offense vs. Clemson Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
74
13
Line Yards
14
25
Pass Success
48
19
Pass Blocking**
24
100
Big Play
84
8
Havoc
38
41
Finishing Drives
40
1
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
88
15
PFF Coverage
6
38
Middle 8
111
31
SP+ Special Teams
52
86
Plays per Minute
48
66
Rush Rate
49.8% (92)
45.7% (113)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Clemson vs. NC State Betting Pick

The two biggest handicaps in the game come from an NC State offense that had poor execution in Starkville and a Clemson offense that has a handful of questions in every unit.

The Wolfpack offense must play its best game of the year, improving on a rank of 38th in Havoc Allowed.

This Clemson defense can flat-out cook, ranking sixth in pass coverage and top-15 in Success Rate. The Tigers have not allowed an explosive drive all season while limiting available yards to 14% less than the national average.

Opponents are averaging 3.5 yards per play on standard downs, as the Tigers get opposing offenses off schedule with a Stuff Rate well above the national average.

To quote Doeren, the Wolfpack have to “make spectacular plays and make the routine plays routine.”

As for Clemson’s offensive struggles, the quotes are the same from Swinney to Uiagalelei to the offensive line — the team is close to bursting out. There have been accuracy and timing issues in the passing game, but Uiagalelei has seen an increase in adjusted completion percentage each game.

This may be the game Clemson busts out of the offensive slump, as NC State has recorded just two sacks on the season. The Wolfpack generated just one quarterback hurry against Mississippi State and rank 113th in pass rush grading, per PFF.

This may also be the game where the communication on the offensive line improves for Clemson, while Uiagalelei continues to work on timing issues with a talented receiver set.

NC State will have to play mistake-free on offense against the best defensive front in college football, but the defense is catching a Tigers offense that has determined improvement is just a snap away.

Pick: Clemson -10 or better

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