By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
CLEMSON — Clemson tight end Brandon Ford says the ninth-ranked Tigers are looking for some revenge when NC State comes to visit Death Valley this Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
“They spoiled our season last year,” the senior said.
The Wolfpack (6-4, 3-3 ACC) just did not spoil Clemson’s year, they demolished it. Using four Clemson turnovers while holding the Tigers to 34 yards rushing, NC State cruised to an easy 37-13 victory that was not even that close.
Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC) was ranked No. 6 in the BCS standings that week, and was still thinking it had an outside shot at playing in the national championship game.
Though the Tigers are not playing for a national title this season, they still have an outside shot at qualifying for the ACC Championship game with a victory coupled with a Florida State loss at Maryland. Even if that does not happen, Clemson is still playing for an at-large BCS berth should it win its remaining two games.
“You can’t help but get up for a game like this,” Ford said. “They are in our way as far as controlling our destiny for an at-large bid. You don’t want to lose in late November or November at all because that can hurt you in the long run.
“Obviously, we lost early this season, but it was early to a good team. The only thing we control now is winning out. I know we have two games left, and everyone is a little hyped about (the South Carolina game) but like I like to tell the guys, we have to stay focused, execute in practice and be ready to play by 3:30 Saturday.”
The Tigers know they will have to be focused for an NC State team that is more than capable of coming into Death Valley and ending the their 12-game home winning streak. Clemson has also won 10 straight over ACC competition at Memorial Stadium.
The Wolfpack snapped the Tigers seven-game win streak in the series with that win in Raleigh, N.C., last year.
“They got after our tails last year,” Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “That is something that will not go unnoticed this week as we talk about a very solid football team in NC State. It’s the same thing as last year, we are 9-1 and ranked in the top 10 and they got after us.
“I don’t know if our guys were overlooking those guys or what?”
If they were, that will not be the case this year.
The Wolfpack is coming off a 37-6 win over Wake Forest, and is now one of only four ACC teams to be bowl eligible. Though they were beaten by Virginia two weeks ago at home, NC State is still the only team in the ACC to beat Florida State, a game in which they held the Seminoles scoreless in the second half for a 17-16 come-from-behind victory.
“They are very sound on defense,” Morris said. “Coming into last week, we knew what kind of defense Maryland had. They were very solid. This group we are playing this week, they lead the league in sacks and are number (ten) in the country. They move their front on every play, and they play a lot of man coverage.”
The Wolfpack recorded six sacks against Clemson a year ago and drew two holding penalties as well. But the Tigers have improved their protection this season and are coming off a game in which they did allow a sack in the win over Maryland.
In fact, the Terrapins came into Death Valley last week leading the ACC in sacks with 31.
“It’s all about taking care of our business and executing the plays that Coach calls,” Ford said. “In the end, it all comes down to us and how focused we are at the task at hand.”