NC State vs Clemson Odds, Picks, Predictions (10/1/22)

This is a huge game.

NC State is the up-and-coming team in the ACC. The Wolfpack have so much continuity on the roster and in the coaching staff. They’re 4-0 with wins over Texas Tech and East Carolina. If anyone is ready to knock off Clemson, it’s the Pack.

But the ACC Atlantic still runs through Clemson. Dabo Swinney and the nation’s best defensive line aren’t ready to secede the title yet. Clemson is also 4-0 after an overtime win at Wake Forest last weekend.

Who has the edge in this battle?

Let’s break it down. Read on for our North Carolina State Wolfpack vs Clemson Tigers Broncos odds, picks, and predictions.

NC State Wolfpack vs Clemson Tigers Broncos

Clemson has failed to cover in three straight games. They opened as just over seven-point favorites against NCST but the line was bet down by sharps below the key number of seven. I assume the line will hold steady at 6.5.

The under has taken the sharp money, moving down from 43.5 to 41.5. However, there has been some buy-back at that number, coming up to 42.

A reminder that remnants of Hurricane Ian will be coming through the region on Saturday. The wind is projected to be blowing close to 35 mph cross-field during game time. That is going to play a huge part in this game.

NC State Wolfpack vs Clemson Tigers Broncos Prediction & Pick

Two questions.

First question: How will NC State’s offensive line hold up against Clemson’s defensive line?

Clemson has four NFL-level talents on the line. It’s the best individual unit of any individual unit in the nation. But the NC State offensive line returned four starters and is probably the second-best offensive line in the conference.

Through four games, the Wolfpack rank sixth nationally in PFF’s Pass Blocking grades. Quarterback Devin Leary has had all the time in the world to throw and has taken relative advantage (64% completion, 890 yards, 7.1 YPA, 9 TD, 2 INT).

But you are not going to run the ball against Clemson, especially when NC State is averaging just 4.4 YPC. Clemson held Georgia Tech and Wake Forest to a combined 183 passing yards.

That scares me because Leary has already committed three Turnover Worthy Plays this season. If he’s forced to press because Dave Doeren’s balanced offensive attack can’t hold its water, this game could spin out of control.

Second question: Is Clemson’s offense fixed?

Clemson put up 51 points against Wake. DJ Uiagalelei made some impossible throws and is breaking tackles at a breakneck rate (18 missed tackles in 28 rush attempts). Surprisingly, he did it all against Wake Forest’s No. 1 overall Pass Rush unit.

But this NC State defense is better than Wake’s. The Wolfpack are best in the FBS in Pass Success Rate allowed and have posted a top-20 mark in Havoc. They also rank top-30 in both Rush Success Rate allowed and Defensive Line Yards.

Remember that NC State allowed less than 20 PPG last season and returned 10 starters. This is the best group of linebackers and defensive backs in the ACC.

Plus, nobody is talking about how Sam Hartman dropped 45 points on Swinney’s defense despite his offense not being able to run the ball. The Clemson defense is miraculous up front, but they have weaknesses in pass protection (70th in PFF’s Coverage grades) and in the red zone (63rd in Points per Opportunity allowed).

Clemson is going to struggle more offensively and Leary could shred the defense if given enough time. The Wolfpack won this game last season (27-21 in double overtime) and are 7-4 ATS vs Clemson during Dabo’s tenure.

I’ll take the Wolfpack to cover a touchdown.

NC State Wolfpack vs Clemson Tigers Broncos Key Matchups

Key Matchup No. 1: Devin Leary against Pass Pressure

Leary may be turnover prone, but he’s a great quarterback. He’s one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks. A four-year starter who knows this offense inside and out.

But this is a massive test for him. I doubt NC State moves the ball on the ground but Wake Forest put up the film to beat Clemson – Hartman was pressured 16 times but carved up Clemson’s coverage.

Leary has been poor under pressure so far, putting up a 34.6 PFF Passing Grade on 24 dropbacks. If his offensive line holds up – which it could – he’ll likely play great. If the line falters – which it could – NC State may struggle offensively.

Key Matchup No. 2: DJ Uiagelelei vs NC State’s Tackling

NC State has a great pass defense. It’s the best in the nation at avoiding moving the chains.

But NC State’s rush defense is exploitable and could be even more exploitable if Uiagelelei continues to use his legs so effectively. He’s already rushed for 170 yards at over 4.1 YPC.

The Wolfpack are 111th in PFF’s Tackling grades and, as mentioned, Uiagelelei has been great at forcing missed tackles and after contact. The Clemson offense might be able to break through and cover a 6.5-point spread if Uiagelelei picks up chunk yardage on the ground.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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