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Tigers look to get back on track against Wolfpack

Aralynn Minnick
The last time NC State and Clemson met, it was a Top 10 matchup which saw the No. 5 Tigers come away victorious by a score of 30-20 over the No. 10 Wolfpack.

The Clemson Tigers are looking to get back in the win column this Saturday at 2 p.m. as they head to Raleigh, North Carolina, where they will face the NC State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Following the Tigers’ defeat in Miami by the Hurricanes in double overtime, they are a 10-point favorite against the Wolfpack. Clemson currently leads the series 60-29-1 and has won nine out of the last 10 matchups against NC State.

Last year’s matchup between the two teams was one of great significance to both teams’ seasons, as it was a battle between two Top 10 teams that were undefeated at the time. However, this season has been different for both the Tigers and the Wolfpack. Both teams enter Saturday’s matchup with 4-3 records and are tied for eighth place in the ACC. The Tigers are 2-3 in conference play, while the Wolfpack stand at 1-2.

Both Clemson and NC State have also had to learn under new starting quarterbacks as both Devin Leary and DJ Uiagalelei transferred after the 2022 season. Heading into Saturday’s matchup, Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik has been successful as a passer, at least on the stat sheet, with 1,684 passing yards and 13 touchdowns while only throwing three interceptions.

Looking at Saturday’s game, Clemson is in last place in the FBS with 10 fumbles lost over seven games. The Tigers’ turnovers have proven to be detrimental to the team’s success, as many of the fumbles have come within the red zone. The Tigers rank 126th out of 130 teams in red zone efficiency in the 2023 season with a 68.4% efficiency rating. Clemson has had 38 trips to the red zone and has only been able to score in 26 of those attempts.

Although the Tigers have struggled to score in the red zone, they have been able to move the ball downfield effectively. Clemson has 424.1 yards per game and has scored 33.9 total points per game, ranking 44th in total offense.

The highlight of the Clemson football team is its defense. Clemson is ranked seventh in total defense, having allowed only 276.1 total yards per game. The unit has also been able to force 12 turnovers this season.

Meanwhile, NC State has not been able to generate much offense, ranking 97th in the nation. With Clemson’s dominant defense, the Tigers will look to capitalize off of the Wolfpack’s struggles.

Although they struggle offensively at times, the Wolfpack rank 35th in total defense and have 12 takeaways on the year.

As far as the special teams units for both teams, they could prove to be the difference in the matchup. The Wolfpack’s special teams unit has been fairly consistent, making all 22 of their extra point attempts and eight of 10 field goal attempts.

Clemson’s special teams, on the other hand, have had its fair share of concerns this season. The team has made only six of their 12 field goal attempts and 27 out of 28 extra points. The Tigers’ kicking concerns ultimately resulted in a kicker change before the team played Florida State, with graduate student Jonathan Weitz taking over the starting role from redshirt freshman Robert Gunn III. Since taking over, Weitz has made five of eight field goals and has been a perfect 11 for 11 in extra-point attempts.

With both teams having such similar seasons, Saturday’s matchup provides an opportunity for both teams to get back on track.

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Luke Beard
Luke Beard, Asst. Sports Editor
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