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Clemson 56, NC State 41: Wolfpack can't keep up with Tigers

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

This was a tremendous football game for a while, a game in which both teams scored twice in the first five minutes. That was weird, sure, but it was also the start that NC State needed to make the ball game a good one. Apparently there are a lot more minutes in a football game beyond the first five, so Clemson won, 56-41.

The Wolfpack drove down the field to take a 6-0 lead on its first possession of the game (Kyle Bambard missed an extra point), and then then Nyheim Hines answered a fast Clemson score with a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown. This game was a lot of fun, right up until it wasn't.

Thing is, Clemson won the line of scrimmage, and while you can buff this out into a tenable line of thinking for an hour or so, time is always a factor.

NC State has not been able to force turnovers all season, and once again a crucial change in possession cost the Wolfpack, which might have made the game different otherwise. And State's kicking game was once again a problem, mainly in the sequence that ended the first half, as NC State went from a potential four-point lead to a six-point deficit.

These are margins you cannot allow to go the other way and still win. NC State played well. Clemson is just really good.