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Clemson vs. NC State by the numbers: Pack’s defense carries the day

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The defense was ready for the big stage.

Clemson v NC State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It’s tough to articulate just how strange it was to watch a Clemson team look as mortal as this one did yesterday. The more performances like this one out the Tigers, the more it appears they’re unlikely to just magically snap out of what ails them. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne ain’t walking through that door, and that offensive line looked pretty average.

NC State’s defense deserves tons of credit, of course. It was the defense that provided the team the margin for error necessary to win—a margin that was shockingly large, and would have been unthinkable in years past.

Stats Overview

... Plays Total Yds Yds/Play Yds/PassAtt Yds/Rush
... Plays Total Yds Yds/Play Yds/PassAtt Yds/Rush
NCSU 96 386 4.02 5.3 3.7
Clemson 49 214 4.37 4.3 5.3

(Yds/Rush numbers calculated after sacks are removed.)

NC State somehow overcame three missed field goals, some dumb trick plays, missed shots down the field, and a bunch of penalties to win this game. State was much better on third downs than Clemson, converting 11 times in 21 opportunities, which helped the Pack run almost twice as many plays as the Tigers and hold the ball for over 41 minutes.

Those numbers alone suggest the game wasn’t as close as it looked, and overtime would not have been necessary if the Pack had just finished on a couple more drives in regulation, that’s for sure. Give the team a lot of credit for its resiliency after the gut punch to end regulation, as the Pack easily could’ve folded up shop after Clemson struck first in overtime. But the offense stepped up big, and the defense had one last big stop in it to seal the deal and let us forget about all of the mistakes that led up to that point. Chris Dunn is probably the happiest guy in Raleigh right now.