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College football expert Ian Cameron breaks down this weekend's North Carolina State vs. No. 9 Clemson. He gives his prediction and picks for this matchup.

NC State vs. Clemson Predictions and Picks: Against the Spread, Total, and Latest Odds

North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Clemson Tigers

Point Spread: Clemson -10

Total: 47.5

Game Time: Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN

NC State vs. Clemson Prediction

It has been a very long time since we have seen cracks in the armor of the Clemson Tigers, but we’ve seen more than a few for the Tigers, and now they will be making their way to NC State to face the Wolfpack in a challenging ACC opener.

Clemson has started the season going 0-3 ATS in their first three games with a whopping -73 point ATS margin in those games. The reason for this is simple. Clemson is always priced like a juggernaut every single year, but this team isn’t playing like it so far, which indicates why there has been such a dramatic difference in their point spread record. This team for years has had a tiny problem covering as big chalk, but that isn’t the case at the moment. We saw it clearly on display as the Tigers were life and death to get past the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at home last Saturday 14-8, and they were outgained by 25 yards in the narrow win.

The problem for Clemson is the offense which has not been able to get on track yet. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has a sub 60% completion rate and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. It’s unfair to put all of the blame for the offense on him, though, as Clemson’s offensive line has really struggled and deserves its share of the responsibility for the problems moving the football and finishing drives. Clemson is averaging just 4.7 yards per play on offense which is terrible by their standards. In addition, the Tigers have not been able to generate a consistent ground attack with the offensive line issues. The pass protection for Uiagalelei at Quarterback has been subpar as well, yielding 2.3 sacks per game and 15.3 sack yards per game in the first three games of the season against Georgia, South Carolina State, and Georgia Tech. 

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NC State will provide a lot of pressure on this struggling Clemson offense as the Wolfpack have what looks like the best defense they’ve had in current head coach Dave Doeren’s tenure with the program. NC State is surrendering only 261 total yards per game, which ranks them 15th in the country in that category. In addition, the Wolfpack are yielding just 4.3 yards per play and have been stifling defensively against the run giving up 2.8 yards per carry.

The offense for NC State has a very good duo at running back with Ricky Person and Zonovan Knight combining to average 6.85 yards per rush. Clemson’s defense statistically has been better against the pass than the run this season, although they’ve been outstanding defensively all the way around. That being said, I think we could see NC State have some success running the football with a very strong and experienced offensive line which should help make Quarterback Devin Leary effective. He enters this game with a solid 67.3% completion rate and a 6-2 TD-INT ratio after the Wolfpack’s first three games, although this will be easily the most challenging opponent and defense that Leary has faced this season.

The last two head-to-head meetings between these teams in 2018 and 2019 were both lopsided in favor of Clemson, but they didn’t play each other last season when NC State started to show some signs of improving. I’m starting to buy into the fact this Clemson team right now isn’t quite the same team of the last few years, especially on the offensive side of the football. I think the home underdog is live in this game, and I’m taking the double-digit points with NC State. I also believe we will see a low-scoring battle between these squads and consider the Under in this game.

NC State vs. Clemson Pick

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