There are many reasons why Clemson-NC State rivalry has intensified over the years
Dabo Swinney says the Clemson-NC State rivalry has intensified in recent years because of the job Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren has done.
“Dave has done a really good job, but even before he got there, every time we played NC State, you just know that it’s going to be a battle,” the Clemson head coach said Wednesday as part of the ACC Coaches’ Teleconference.
That’s part of the reason.
The other part is due to some of the other things that have happened in recent years.
There was a play in 2013, Doeren’s first year, where an NC State wide receiver was ruled out of bounds on what appeared to be a long touchdown. However, it appeared the officials got it wrong and Clemson caught a break in a 26-14 win on a Thursday night in Raleigh.
Two years later, the Tigers returned to Carter-Finley Stadium and beat the ‘Pack in a shootout, 56-41. In that game, then Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was pushed by NC State assistant coach, Des Kitchings.
In 2016, the Tigers could have lost a shot at an ACC Championship, and ultimately a national championship, had Kyle Bambard not missed on a 33-yard field goal as time expired in regulation. Clemson won the game, 24-17, in overtime.
The next day, it came off as if Doeren was bragging on his coach’s show on how he knew his team had a chance to win after his defense knocked Clemson running back Wayne Gallman out of the game in the first quarter with a concussion.
Last year, Clemson again held off the Wolfpack with a dramatic, 38-31, victory in Raleigh. It too had some controversy as Doeren accused Clemson of cheating due to a laptop being spotted on the Clemson sideline. Clemson later confirmed it was a member of the athletic communication staff who was uploading graphics and pictures for its social media outlets.
Also, NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb tried to bully former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant early in the game by taking his towel after several plays in the first half. That did not sit too well with Swinney at the time.
So, intense is definitely one way to describe next week’s game between the Tigers and ‘Pack at Clemson’s Death Valley.
“There’s always a lot of juice for this game, both sides,” Swinney said.
There has always been a lot of juice in what is known as the Textile Bowl. Dating back to when former Clemson head coach Danny Ford ripped NC State coach Monte Kiffin for supposedly turning Clemson into the NCAA following the Tigers’ 38-29 win in Raleigh. Later that decade, NC State went on a three-game win streak from 1986-’88, something the Wolfpack has not done that since, while knocking Clemson out of the national championship picture in 1987 and 1988.
In other words, the Clemson-NC State game has always been a big game for both programs.
“That goes way back, way before I got here,” Swinney said. “Clemson-NC State has always been a very competitive game. Certainly, we’ve had some really tough games outside of maybe one since Dave has gotten there, but we know that we’ll have to play very well.”
As competitive as the rivalry has been lately, Clemson has won 13 of the last 14 in the series and six straight overall.
However, the Oct. 20 game, which is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m., will be just the fifth time in the history of Death Valley that two teams come into a game undefeated with a least a record of 4-0 or better. It is the first time since 2000, NC State and Clemson will come into the game with 4-0 or better record.
Clemson, ranked No. 4, is 6-0 and NC State, ranked No. 20, is 5-0. The winner will gain control of the ACC’s Atlantic Division.
“They’re undefeated for a reason, and just like us, I think they’re getting better as the season has progressed,” Swinney said. “We’ve improved, they’ve improved, and it’ll be an awesome environment and a huge opportunity for both teams.”