Streeter Lecka

Thursday night college football: Clemson passes its first road test

The Textile Bowl! NC State was unable to wreck yet another ACC national title contender this time around. Visit Clemson site Shakin' the Southland and NC State site Backing the Pack.

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10 Total Updates since September 19, 2013
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Sloppy play nearly dooms Clemson

If not for what appeared to be a blown call by the referees, No. 3 Clemson's sloppy play on Thursday night could have cost them a chance at the national championship.

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TIIIGER UPPERCUT

Refs tossed the Clemson lineman from Thursday's game for punching an opposing defender.

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Clemson pulls away from NC State in 2nd half

After being on upset watch early, the Tigers used a big second half to pull away Thursday night, perhaps with a little assistance from the refs.

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Clemson builds lead over NC State

Thanks largely to a possibly blown call in the third quarter, Clemson is pulling away from NC State after three quarters Thursday night. The Tigers hold a 20-7 lead entering the fourth, though it very well could be the Wolfpack holding a slim lead had a lengthy run by running back Bryan Underwood not been called back.

From NC State's 17-yard line, Underwood broke loose down the right sideline and appeared to break an 83-yard touchdown run. The refs ruled he had stepped out of bounds at Clemson's 47-yard line, however. Three players later, Wolfpack quarterback Pete Thomas was sacked and fumbled the ball away. Five players later, Clemson punched the ball in the endzone for a 20-7 lead and a 14-point swing.

NC State ended the third quarter by allowing Thomas to be sacked on a 3rd-and-8, and then kicker Niklas Sade missed the ensuing 48-yard field goal attempt to open the fourth.

Despite a slow start thanks largely to an aggressive NC State defense, Clemson appears to be in the driver's seat with less than a quarter to play. The Tigers have outgained the Wolfpack, 306-277.

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NC State screwed out of touchdown?

NC State was in prime position to continue the upset watch it placed No. 3 Clemson on through two-plus quarters Thursday night, but an iffy call against the Wolfpack could render that moot.

On the first play of a drive beginning at 7:43 in the third quarter, NC State running back Bryan Underwood broke loose down the right sideline and appeared to break what would've been an 83-yard touchdown run and, presumably, a 14-13 Wolfpack lead. Instead, referees ruled Underwood stepped out of bounds at Clemson's 47-yard line, limiting the run to 36 yards.

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The play was never reviewed, and ESPN's Rece Davis shortly thereafter provided the official rule explanation that out-of-bounds calls outside the five-yard line can't be reviewed.

Underwood's run would've been a fine enough play, except that NC State quarterback Pete Thomas fumbled away the ball after being sacked three plays later on a 3rd-and-10 from that spot. Clemson recovered, and five plays later, quarterback Tajh Boyd found wide receiver Martavis Bryant for a 30-yard touchdown pass, a 20-7 lead and a 14-point swing.

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Clemson on second-half upset watch at NC State

After a slower-than-expected offensive start, No. 3 Clemson finds itself with just a 13-7 halftime lead over NC State in Thursday night's game. Clemson managed just two field goals until adding a touchdown with slightly more than two minutes remaining in the first half.

Clemson entered the ACC opener averaging 45 points per game, but pressure from NC State's defense limited the possibility of big plays and relegated the Tigers' offense to a shorter attack. Boyd enters the break 15-of-26 for 144 yards and the touchdown, but that 5.5 yards per pass is a strikingly low figure.

Tigers kicker Chandler Catanzaro scored the game's first six points, on a 49-yard field goal at the 9:58 mark in the first quarter and then on a 45-yarder at 14:46 in the second. Both drives lasted 14 plays, an indicator of the hard work and lack of results Clemson's offense has struggled through.

The touchdown came with 2:23 left in the half, as Boyd connected with tight end Sam Cooper on this 11-yard pass that  featured Cooper heading downfield after beginning the play along the offensive line:

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Clemson's offense has managed 220 yards to NC State's 179, and the Wolfpack have also been held back by six penalties at the cost of 44 yards. NC State quarterback Pete Thomas is 8-of-12 for 91 yards, while seven different Wolfpack rushers have totaled 88 yards on 14 attempts.

Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins is already on pace for a huge game, entering the half with eight catches for 87 yards.

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Clemson holds slim lead over NC State

Minutes into the second quarter, Clemson finds itself tightly contested by NC State on Thursday night. The Tigers hold a 6-0 lead early after kicker Chandler Catanzaro nailed a 45-yard field goal less than a minute into the second quarter, his second successful attempt of the night.

Catanzaro's first field goal capped a 14-play, 43-yard drive that consumed more than five minutes of the opening quarter. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is 11-of-15, but has little to show for it with just 92 yards.

Much of that credit should go to the Wolfpack pass rush, which has limited Clemson's big-play ability. Boyd's averaging just 5.8 yards per pass, while the Tigers have collectively gained just 2.2 yards per carry on the ground.

NC State, meanwhile, hasn't fared any better on offense. Quarterback Pete Thomas is just 2-of-4 for 10 yards, while the running game has produced just 24 yards on four carries.

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NC State claims entire state via card stunt

Clemson has laid no claim to the state of North Carolina, with head coach Dabo Swinney in fact once ceding the name"Carolina" to a school outside the state of South Carolina. The Wolfpack will have none of it, and the billboards will continue.

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How to watch Clemson vs. NC State

The 2013 Textile Bowl finds perhaps the ACC's best team in a tough Thursday night road game.

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Is Clemson really No. 3?

Clemson has jumped from eighth to third in the AP poll after two games. The defense still bears obvious burden of proof, but the offense also has some questions, particularly on passing downs. Thursday night in Raleigh, we might get answers.

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