Coming in at game 11, NC State will travel down to Memorial Stadium in Death Valley to attempt to defend it’s stake over the Textile Bowl. Kick-off against the Clemson Tigers is slated for November 17th, just before the Thanksgiving break. Please take a moment to check out the rest of the competition if you haven’t already.
Last season, NC State hosted Clemson in the safe confines of Carter-Finley Stadium and left them curled up in the fetal position by the end of the 37-13 victory. This season, NC State will have to prove it’s metal by attempting the same feat, only this time in the enemy camp of Death Valley. Clemson is always a dangerous opponent, but after suffering the public embarrassment they did last season during their 70-33 loss to West Virginia, the Tigers are likely to treat the entire season like a giant “make-up game”. By the time November comes around, I wouldn’t expect them to have forgotten how it felt to leave the Orange Bowl with that kind of beating.
THE TEXTILE BOWL
The “rivalry” between NC State and Clemson has been titled the Textile Bowl since 1981. As you could guess, the name refers to the strong textile programs that both universities have. Since then, NC State has gotten whipped an embarrassing 21 out of the last 31 meetings. The longest winning streak we have had against Clemson since then was a 3-year run from 1986-1988. Clemson’s longest streak was spoiled last year. Prior to that, Clemson had not lost to NC State since 2003. It’s also worth noting that during that period of time, Clemson has won 7 ACC championships while NC State has won… well… we don’t need to get into all that.
Last season, Clemson was a powerhouse and deserved their #15 ranking going into their bowl game. Passing, they made 525 attempts earning a total of 3952 yards on the season, 7.53 yards per attempt, and 33 touchdowns. In ever category, that outpaces NC State’s 2011 performance. On the ground, they made 530 rushing attempts for 2219 yards and 4.19 yards per carry. In total, they scored 18 touchdowns, rushing. That is amazingly good and just outlines exactly how fortunate NC State was to be “on” when they met last season, just before Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately for NC State, Clemson is returning 7 starters, including most of their statistical leaders. If the defense is going to control Clemson’s offense, it is going to need to find some linebackers (quickly) to take advantage of three departing starters on Clemson’s offensive line. If there is a chink in the armor, the offensive line might be it.
Overall, Clemson’s defense is respectable, but not unbeatable. As West Virginia found out, their offense is hard to beat, but their defense is vulnerable. They will return 7 starters from last year which is undoubtedly produce a lot of ‘remember the Alamo’ moments when they face NC State this year. Of special note are their linebackers who are amazing. They have so much depth at linebacker that their two senior LBs are expected to back-up sophomore Tony Stewart and Corico Hawkins. The NC State offensive line supposedly looks better for the 2012 season, but they will have to bring their A-game if they are going to protect Glennon against this talented of a roster.
Clemson can be beaten, but it’s going to take special attention from the coaching staff and discipline on the part of our players. Coming into Death Valley and praying the Tigers are caught sleeping won’t be an option this year. If our defensive front-end can get up-close-and-personal with QB Tajh Boyd, we may be able to shut-down the productivity of their almost flawless receiving corps. On defense, we must be able to protect against their linebackers and give Glennon the time he needs to make smart plays. It’ll be a tough one and even tougher given it’s location, but it can be won.