Fourth-ranked Clemson’s next test comes this Saturday as it travels to Raleigh, N.C., to take on No. 20 N.C. State at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Apart from preparing for Saturday’s game, it was a big week in the college football world. The College Football Playoff Committee released its first top 25 rankings on Tuesday where they placed Clemson at No. 4. However defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, along with the rest of the team, did not pay it much mind.
“Honestly, I didn’t remember that. I didn’t think about it today until you just mentioned it,” Wilkins said. “You’re going to be exposed to it, but regardless of what the committee decides, none of that matters right now, really. Regardless of what they say and how they feel about us, it’s all about what we do going forward.”
The Tigers (7-1, 5-1 ACC) know that they have to focus on each week’s contest as if it were a one-game season. This week, they will face a veteran team with a very talented quarterback in Ryan Finley, who had not thrown an interception in 274 passes this season until the third quarter against Notre Dame.
“He’s a very talented player,” Wilkins said. “Just watching him on film and obviously playing him last year. He’s an older guy and he has a lot of experience and everything like that too. He just makes the game hard on you.
“He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. I think he just threw his first interception in almost a year. It just shows he’s making good decisions and doing things right. We just have to try to make it tough on them as a defense.”
The Wolfpack (6-2, 4-0 ACC) lost running back Matt Dayes last season who was a huge asset in the run game. This year, Wilkins doesn’t see much of a drop off because running back Nyheim Hines has been productive.
“Doesn’t seem like there is much of a drop off from last year,” Wilkins said. “They have so many returners back, veteran offensive line, good blocking tight ends, and a good running back who makes plays. It’s going to be high stress this week.”
As the Tigers head to face the Wolfpack, they know that there is a division title on the line. However, that hasn’t changed Clemson’s mentality this week.
“It’s the same thing. It’s the same mentality,” Wilkins said. “This is quote ‘a bigger game’ I guess you know because there’s a little but more at stake. But you just have to make it smaller, really. Don’t think too much about that because if we do our job, we’ll get the result that we want. You can put too much pressure or stress on yourself. Just make your life as simple as it can be both on and off the field and so when it’s game time you know you can do your job.”