Slipping in polls, No. 9 Clemson visits hungry NC State

After a close call last week in a 14-8 victory against upstart Georgia Tech, No. 9 Clemson hopes to continue its recent mastery over North Carolina State Saturday in an early Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division showdown in Raleigh, N.C.Clemson has won 15 of its last 16 games against the Wolfpack, including eight in a row. The teams had played every year since 1971 until the series was suspended last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Clemson outscored the Wolfpack 96-17 in their previous two games in 2018 and 2019, but the Tigers are only a 10-point favorite this week.”We want to compete with everybody, particularly a team that’s won the league as many times as they have,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “They’ve got bragging rights. They’ve earned that.”Clemson (2-1, 1-0 ACC) is built around a defense that returned nine starters, and that experience has been evident through the first three games. The Tigers have the only FBS defense in the nation that has not allowed an offensive touchdown this season.It marks the first time that Clemson has not allowed an offensive touchdown in the first three games of the season since 1950, but Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is guarded about his team’s first true road game of the season.”We’ve got a huge challenge this week going on the road against a very good N.C. State team,” Swinney said. “They’re complete. This has got to be one of the most experienced teams in college football. They play hard, they play tough.”N.C. State (2-1, 0-0), which is coming off a 45-7 victory against FCS opponent Furman, has been led by quarterback Devin Leary, who has passed for 794 yards and six touchdowns against two interceptions.Running back Zonovan “Bam” Knight is fourth in the ACC in rushing at 99.3 yards per game.”Offensively their quarterback is a baller,” Swinney said. “He’s an excellent thrower, he’s athletic, he moves around, he can run well. They’re very physical in the run game with two great running backs.