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Clemson's reloaded defense showing no signs of strain

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

We'll get more in-depth on Clemson later this week, but if you're curious why the Tigers are suddenly a national title contender, here's an easy answer: the re-built their defense even though they lost a lot of personnel to the professional ranks. This Clemson defense is still really good:

Clemson Defense Opp. Yds/Play Opp. Yds/Rush Opp. Yds/Pass Att.
2015 4.1 2.9 5.9

Five of Clemson's top six tacklers last season were seniors. Vic Beasley left early. But I don't think anybody in the country has a better defense than the Tigers. That is the power of good recruiting and good fortune and I suppose bringin' your own guts to the ball game.

This is a good "what did we learn?" week for the Wolfpack, which rolled Wake Forest but will be leveling up drastically against Clemson. For a while we've wondered if State can move the ball consistently on a decent (or better) defense.

If this team doesn't answer that in the affirmative Saturday, it's hard to figure where this season will go. Mixed results only work so far, but fortunately for the Wolfpack, they only need result in one more win for bowl eligibility.