The NC State football team returns home this week to take on the fifth-ranked Clemson Tigers in its annual homecoming game, a red out game for fans. NC State has an interesting history with Clemson. The Tigers lead the all-time series 58-28-1 and are currently on a seven-game win streak, tied for the longest win streak by the Tigers in the series. If the Tigers win this game over the Pack, it will mark the longest win streak in the series at eight.
In the “Textile Bowl,” as the matchup is dubbed, NC State’s last victory came in 2011, when the Pack won 37-13, over the then-ranked No. 7 Tigers. On the roster in this matchup were NC State legend quarterback Mike Glennon and NFL cornerback David Amerson. Let’s take a look at how some of the recent matchups against Clemson have gone and see if they can provide an outlook for this game.
Oct. 15, 2016: Clemson defeats NC State 24-17 in overtime
NC State fans fondly remember this game for Kyle Bambard’s late-game heroics, sending the Pack to victory with a 33-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Pack the win over the third-ranked Tigers, 20-17. Or at least, that’s what NC State fans likely wish they could remember. Instead, Bambard missed the field goal after the Pack drove down the field in the last seconds of the game.
In overtime, Clemson immediately charged down the field led by Deshaun Watson, capping off the charge with a ten-yard touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Finley tried to answer back, but could not and was intercepted in the red zone by Marcus Edmond.
Running backs Matt Dayes and Jaylen Samuels both had strong games, and both made it to the NFL. Dayes finished the game with 108 rushing yards on 22 carries with a touchdown run. Samuels recorded 100 yards on eight catches.
The Tigers went on to win the national championship, while the Pack, who had entered the game at 4-1, followed the tough loss with its hopes deflated, and were blown out the following week by the seventh-ranked Louisville Cardinals, led by Lamar Jackson. The Pack ended the season at 7-6, making the Camping World Independence Bowl against Vanderbilt, winning 41-17.
Nov. 4, 2017: Clemson defeats NC State 38-31
In yet another close game against Clemson, NC State fell once more in disappointing fashion in that year’s homecoming game. NC State led for a solid amount of the game, leading for a good chunk of the first and second quarters.
Both Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers were impressive, recording 260 yards and two touchdowns. Both players are now in the NFL, with Harmon on Washington and Meyers on the New England Patriots.
Meanwhile, Watson left Clemson over the offseason, declaring for the 2017 NFL draft, and was eventually selected in the first round by the Houston Texans, where he remains the franchise quarterback to this day.
In his place, Kelly Bryant took over the reigns as starting quarterback and finished the game with 191 yards, one touchdown and one interception. For comparison, Finley began with a much better performance than the year prior in his senior season, with three touchdowns and 338 yards. However, Finley threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, with one coming with 1:24 left in the game, sealing the victory for the Tigers.
Oct. 20, 2018: Clemson defeats NC State 41-7
Riding high into the game at 5-0, with impressive wins against Virginia and Boston College, NC State had high expectations being ranked at 16, hoping to knock off the then-third ranked Tigers.
Clemson saw yet another turnover at quarterback, with freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence taking the starting spot from Bryant after the Tigers lost in the semifinal of the college football playoffs the year prior. Bryant ended up switching his tiger stripes from Clemson to Missouri after declaring his transfer decision in the middle of last season.
Finley took the helm again as the starting quarterback, this season as a graduate student, and had yet another poor showing. Finley finished the game with only 156 passing yards and two interceptions. Meanwhile, Lawrence finished the game with 308 yards on 26 of 39 passing and one passing touchdown.
The only NC State touchdown in the game came from a Reggie Gallaspy rush, while current Heisman candidate Travis Etienne finished with three rushing touchdowns, splitting the NC State defense wide open. Though the Pack did outrush the Tigers 104-91, the 380 air yards recorded by Clemson were almost double the Pack’s 193.
Tee Higgins stood out for Clemson in the matchup, recording 119 yards on eight catches and one touchdown.
After the loss, NC State’s hopes were still high, but the team followed the loss with another high-scoring loss against Syracuse. The team then lost against Wake Forest in an upset, knocking them from the rankings for the remainder of the season.
Nov. 9, 2019: TBD
Unlike in each of the last three years, NC State is not atop the ACC food chain. Instead, the team took a beating from the No. 23 Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 44-10. It will be interesting to see if the mentality change has an impact on the outcome of the game, and if a more desperate NC State team will challenge the Tigers, who are having struggles of their own this season, despite being highly-ranked.
Clemson will have the same quarterback as last season as well as Etienne, so NC State will be more prepared to deal with those players than the year prior, when they had a harder time game planning for them. Higgins also returns, with 662 yards on just 32 catches and four touchdowns. Etienne has 1,102 rushing yards on 123 attempts, good for an astounding average of nine yards per carry, and 11 rushing touchdowns. 205 yards and three of these rushing touchdowns were recorded in the Clemson season opener versus Georgia Tech alone.
NC State will likely need to win two of its last four games, versus Clemson, Louisville or UNC, or at Georgia Tech. Winning against Clemson would likely jettison the Wolfpack into great position for a bowl game, seeing as Clemson is still undefeated despite some close dust-ups earlier in the season, such as its game against UNC-Chapel Hill.
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in Carter-Finley Stadium for the red out homecoming game.