After being left out of the top four in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, Clemson will be looking not only to win, but to put up some style points when the Tigers travel to North Carolina State for an ACC matchup Saturday. Clemson has won a school-record 24 consecutive games overall and seven straight against the Wolfpack, including a 41-7 rout last season.
The defending national champion Tigers are ranked third in the coaches poll, but they would be outside of the four-team playoff if the season ended now. A close call at North Carolina on Sept. 28 is the source of Clemson's lowered esteem in the rankings, but the Tigers have won each of their four games since by at least 35 points. N.C. State has three wins against top-10 Clemson teams, most recently in 2011, which was the last time the Wolfpack took down the Tigers. Adding to that total will be a daunting task for a Wolfpack team that has lost two straight, three of its last four and has been plagued by injuries.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Clemson -32
ABOUT CLEMSON (9-0, 6-0 ACC): The Tigers have been lighting up the scoreboard lately, scoring 45 points or more in four straight games and hitting 50 in two in a row. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has thrown eight interceptions - but none in the past two games - and has tossed three touchdown passes in each of the past four games, while Travis Etienne has averaged 160 rushing yards per game over that stretch. Clemson ranks fourth in the nation in total defense and has not allowed more than 300 total yards in a game this season.
ABOUT N.C. STATE (4-4, 1-3): The Wolfpack have started 40 different players - the second-highest total among Power 5 schools - as seven players suffered season-ending injuries, including five starters. The secondary has been especially depleted and was dinged for 295 passing yards in last week's loss at Wake Forest, but the run defense was gashed for 429 yards in a loss to Boston College two weeks earlier. The defense has to play better to give N.C. State a chance with an offense that is trending in the wrong direction and had a season-low 265 total yards last week.
1. Clemson can clinch a fifth consecutive ACC Atlantic Division title with a win and a Wake Forest loss to Virginia Tech.
2. Etienne's 48 career rushing touchdowns are the fourth-most in ACC history behind Pittsburgh's James Conner (52), Louisville's Lamar Jackson (50), and N.C. State's Ted Brown (49).
3. The Wolfpack's 3.50 sacks per game are tied for ninth-most among FBS teams, but they've managed only two in the past two games.