We were looking at this whole week and hoping for the best, while also looking NC State’s thoroughly mediocre offensive performance to date square in the eye. Personally I was trying to see what ignoring that particular elephant in the room might do. Alas.
Clemson was simply better than NC State from start to finish on Saturday night, and the Wolfpack could not find the big plays necessary to flip this game on its head. At least one big play, some random turnover or kick return or whatever, was going to be necessary, because the Tigers’ defense had NC State’s offense well bottled-up and playing from behind almost all night.
But it was the Pack that made those big mistakes—two turnovers to none for Clemson. Tough enough to win on the road in a game like this, but ending up -2 in the turnover column is pretty tough to come back from against a good team.
There was a brief moment there when it felt like NC State had control, where it could perhaps just paint over its problems with more defense again. Devin Leary hit Ced Seabrough for a touchdown to give State a 10-6 edge late in the second quarter. That was the first touchdown by either team to that point.
Clemson came right back with a precise two-minute drill, though, and took a three-point lead into the break. That, as it turns out, was an omen for the rest of the night. See, if they could just tell us these things ahead of time, we could go to bed and spare ourselves the emotional misery.
Anyway. NC State couldn’t put together a touchdown drive in the second half until garbage time, as this game slowly slipped by. Clemson scored an early third-quarter touchdown to go up 20-10, which allowed the Tigers to relax, and that made a significant difference.
The Pack could not figure out a way to move the ball with any consistency on this Clemson defense, and playing from behind in the second half while also forcing zero turnovers was a strong recipe for a loss. Clemson owned the last 30 minutes of this game.
NC State needed to find a break in there somewhere to turn the whole the-other-team-is-better-than-us situation around, but none was forthcoming. So it goes.