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Silence fell upon the entire Clemson sidelines as NC State continued to pour unanswered points onto the scoreboard. Without WR, playmaker, and possible Heisman candidate, Sammy Watkins, No. 7 Clemson’s offense was stagnant, and State’s defense was smothering.
Scoring their first touchdown with 1:12 remaining in the fourth quarter, Clemson felt the effects of Watkins absence, who had suffered an upper body injury when playing Wake Forest last week. Unranked North Carolina State sacked QB Tajh Boyd five times, picked him off twice, and recovered two forced fumbles in their routing of the Tigers Saturday night.
Coming off of a one-TD, three-interception performance last week, State QB Mike Glennon pulled a complete 180. Playing a nearly perfect game, Glennon hit eight different receivers for 253 yards and 3 touchdowns, hitting four of them for three or more receptions. There were no interceptions.
The Wolfpack also had a combined 145 yards on the ground, led by James Washington’s 86-yard performance, but their ability to contain a Watkins-less, Clemson offense overloaded Coach Dabo Swinney’s play calling. With a team who averaged 170.5 rushing yards per game coming in tonight, Clemson was held to a miserable 34 yards on the ground. As for the Tigers’ aerial attack, Boyd did complete 21 of 34 passes for 238 yards, but he failed to get the ball into the endzone and turned the ball over twice.
State also managed to keep the Clemson offense off the field, winning the possession battle by a margin of just about 13 minutes. State CB David Amerson recorded his eleventh interception tonight, six more than any other team in college football and three away from tying an NCAA record.
The now 9-2 Clemson Tigers will likely take a huge hit in the BCS standing, since losing to a non-Top 25 team normally results in a drop of ten or more rankings. Things do not get any better as they end the season with a road game against the No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks.