Reason for Optimism

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

No really. Some of this actually employs genuine reasoning.

If you need help talking yourself in to this one, please consider the following:

  • As noted in yesterday's preview-like substance, the Pack have won 10 straight at home under the lights.
  • Under Dabo, Clemson is 14-16 away from home, including just 10-9 against unranked opponents.
  • N.C. State has defeated at least one ranked opponent every year since 2005.
  • As Tampa-Pack noted recently in the comments section of this story, the Pack now have increased potato options with breakfast. Do not underestimate the power of the potato; you can make a gall-darned battery out of these things.

OK, that's really all I've got in terms of bullets, but there's more.

N.C. State is not Georgia, but N.C. State is (finally) doing something more than paying lip service to the running game. The Bulldogs ran for 222 yards and five scores against the Tigers, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The following week, South Carolina held the Dogs to more than a yard less per carry than they had managed against Clemson. Oddly, Georgia won the latter game and lost to Clemson, but the point here is this: the Tigers are elite offensively, but they have yet to convince me that they have, in the words of UNC football players, arrove defensively.

Heck, Mr. #education himself, Shadrach Thornton, ran for 115 yards (5.4 per carry) and a TD in last year's shootout. The Football Outsiders' S&P metric ranked Clemson 55th last year against the run. The 4.18 yards per carry Clemson gave up was 66th in the nation. There's a history here.

The Pack were 110th in yards per game and 114th in yards per carry last year, but they still managed a 100-yard rusher against Clemson. The Pack are up to 43rd and 70th in the above measures this year, and they already have five rushing touchdowns after totaling a mere dozen all of last year. They may well triple their rushing touchdown output by season's end.

I am not a betting man, but there are two cardinal rules of college football betting that one would have to break in order to like Clemson to cover the two-TD spread in this one. First, never bet on a big road favorite that can't stop the run. Second, don't discount the revenge factor. Clemson, smarting from a woodshed beating by the Pack in 2011, put up 62 points last year in exacting its revenge. N.C. State will be highly motivated not to repeat that embarrassment on national television. And, even with all those points, the Tigers still only won the last matchup by 14, which is what the spread is for tonight's game (13.5 in some outlets).

A home-standing Pack team that is both determined to run the ball and has revenge on their minds does not seem like a 14-point dog to me. Does my mind really believe in a 34-31 Pack win, as I opined yesterday? Not really. But there are plenty of reasons to believe that this is going to be a non-laugher. Maybe the Pack will get the last laugh.

Either way, be sure to have plenty of beer liquor and barbiturates on hand.

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