No. 9 Clemson visits NC State in ACC divisional matchup

No. 9 Clemson (2-1, 1-0 ACC) at North Carolina State (2-1, 0-0), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EDT (ESPN).

Line: Clemson by 9 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Clemson leads 59-28-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Tigers have looked shaky offensively as the six-time reigning ACC champions. Now they’re visiting the Wolfpack, picked in the preseason as Clemson’s top Atlantic Division challenger with a team full of returning veteran talent. A win would be the Wolfpack’s biggest under ninth-year coach Dave Doeren after losing 15 of 16 in the series.

KEY MATCHUP

Clemson’s stagnant offense against North Carolina State’s injury-hit defense. The Tigers have managed 17 points in two games against power-conference teams this year, including three points in a loss to No. 2 Georgia on opening night and 14 in a close win last weekend against Georgia Tech. The Tigers have also failed to crack 300 yards in two of three games. They’ll meet a Wolfpack defense that lost all-ACC linebacker Payton Wilson to a season-ending injury and safety Cyrus Fagan after a Week 2 loss at Mississippi State.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Clemson: QB D.J. Uiagalelei. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound sophomore threw for more than 900 yards and five touchdowns in two starts last year, but things haven’t come easily in his first year as the full-time starter. Uiagalelei has thrown for 475 yards and one touchdown in three games this season.

N.C. State: RB Zonovan Knight. Nicknamed “Bam,” the Wolfpack runner has run for 298 yards in three games, cracking the 100-yard mark in easy wins against South Florida and Furman. He managed just 31 yards in the loss to Mississippi State. But Knight is third in the Bowl Subdivision ranks by averaging 8.5 yards per carry and could be critical for the Wolfpack establishing physical move-the-chains play.

FACTS & FIGURES

N.C. State’s last win was a 37-13 win against the then-No. 7 Tigers in 2011. That is one of three wins against a top-10 Clemson team, joining 1987 and 1988. The 1987 and 2011 wins were at home. … The longtime neighboring-state programs didn’t play last year amid a reshuffled league slate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That marked the first time they didn’t meet since 1970. … Clemson won the last meeting in Raleigh, cruising 55-10 as the reigning national champions in 2019. … The Tigers averaged almost 44 points per game from 2018 to 2020 but are averaging 22 points entering this game. … N.C. State ranks 16th in the FBS ranks by allowing 261 yards per game, while Clemson is 19th at 266.7.

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