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              === No. 3 Tigers begin ACC run against Wolfpack ===
 Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Coming off a bye, the third-ranked Clemson
 Tigers invade Raleigh this week for their ACC-opener against the NC State
 Dabo Swinney's squad has looked every bit the part of a conference favorite
 thus far. Behind the play of its All-American quarterback, Clemson stands at
 2-0 on the young season, opening the 2013 campaign with a thrilling 38-35
 victory over SEC power Georgia, followed by a much easier blasting of FCS foe
 South Carolina State (52-13).
 Dave Doeren was lured away from Northern Illinois after a couple of successful
 seasons with the Huskies. His first season with NC State has started off on
 the right foot, with two wins in as many games. They have come in vastly
 different ways, as the season-opener was a lopsided 40-14 victory over
 Louisiana Tech, followed by a 23-21 close call against FCS foe Richmond.
 In a series that dates all the way back to 1899, Clemson holds a 52-28-1
 advantage all-time, including an 18-16 mark in Raleigh. The Tigers had won a
 series-best seven straight games prior to NC State's 37-13 upset in 2011. Last
 season, Clemson clinched its first double-digit win campaign since 1981, with
 a 62-48 shootout victory over NC State in Death Valley.
 After years of offensive proficiency, it is safe to call Clemson's attack a
 juggernaut. Over the last few seasons, a lot of that has to do with the play
 of quarterback Tajh Boyd. The senior gun slinger is off to another strong
 start, completing just over 60 percent of his throws over the first two games,
 for 439 yards and three touchdowns, adding another three scores on the ground.
 Boyd does not do it alone, and will look early and often to former All-
 American wideout Sammy Watkins. The junior receiver had a down year in 2012,
 but has started the 2013 season strong, with nine receptions, for 146 yards
 and one TD. The play of Watkins on the outside will be even more vital going
 forward as second-leading receiver Charone Peake (eight catches, 84 yards, one
 TD) suffered a torn ACL in practice last week and is lost for the season.
 "This is a big loss, Charone was having a great year and was going to have a
 great year," said Swinney. "We are thin at receiver with just six scholarship
 players now. We like to carry 10 at that position. We have good players, but
 we don't have a lot of bodies."
 Picking up the slack for the lack of depth in the passing game is a rushing
 attack that has generated 190.0 yards per game thus far. Leading the charge in
 that regard is tailback Roderick McDowell, who is netting 5.8 yards per carry
 and 87.5 yards per game.
 Clemson's defense has played second fiddle to the offense for some time now
 and early indications are that that will continue in 2013. The Tigers are
 yielding just under 400 yards per game, although the numbers are skewed a bit
 considering Georgia's success in the opener.
 Linebacker play is the real catalyst for the Clemson defense and both Spencer
 Shuey and Anthony Stephone have been all over the field in the early going.
 Shuey leads the team with 23 total tackles, while Stephone is a close second
 with 21 stops.
 Overall, Clemson has recorded 17 TFL, seven sacks and three interceptions in
 the first two games.
 The injury bug has already hit the NC State offense, as starting quarterback
 Brandon Mitchell went down in the season-opener. Doeren has a backup plan in
 Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas, who will now lead NC State's balanced
 attack for the foreseeable future. The Wolfpack are averaging 212.5 ypg on the
 ground and 280.5 ypg through the air.
 Thomas has completed a solid 67.2 percent of his throws for 449 yards, but he
 has yet to throw a touchdown pass and has three interceptions to his credit.
 The receiving duo of Marquez Valdes-Scant (12 catches, 174 yards) and Rashard
 Smith (12 catches, 145 yards) will certainly pay dividends along the way.
 After two games, it is NC State's defense that has shown the most consistency.
 The Wolfpack are allowing 17.5 ppg and have a particular penchant for stopping
 the run (79.5 ypg). NC State has yet to record an interception, but has posted
 six fumble recoveries thus far.
 Senior linebacker Robert Caldwell has led the way on the defensive side of the
 ball with his team-high 18 tackles. Safety Hakim Jones is second on the squad
 with 12 stops, followed closely by fellow defensive backs Jarvis Byrd and
 Juston Burriss, who have 10 tackles each.
 09/18 11:01:32 ET

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