NC State leads FBS in third down conversion rate at 60.9% this season, and also leads the country in conversion rate in 3rd-and-long situations (54.3%). The success here is directly related to the quality of the Wolfpack’s pass protection and the elite talent spearheading the passing attack.
And you’d think that a team this efficient on third downs would generally be a safe bet to score touchdowns at a high rate when in the red zone. Alas, no. The Boston College game was the perfect example of these traits working in stark contrast—State was 10-15 on third down but also scored on only three of its six trips to the red zone.
The Pack ranks 76th in points per trip inside the opponent 40 yard line, which is rather disappointing.
For one week, at least, they’ll have to reverse the negative trends that have plagued them in scoring territory, or an upset over Clemson will be out of the question. This week, the scores have got to be touchdowns rather than field goals, and NC State cannot cough up the ball in the red zone. There’s no margin for error.
Efficiently handling its opportunities in plus territory is also essential for the obvious reason that NC State isn’t likely to have a lot of them. Clemson’s defense ranks fifth in S&P+ and the Tigers are allowing only 14.5 points per game. On the occasions where you do have that group at a disadvantage, you had best deliver.