USA Today

North Carolina State University’s 5-0 (2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) start is good enough to keep them rising in the ranks of college football.

NC State is now No. 16 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 15 in the Coaches Poll. With multiple ranked teams losing over the weekend and dropping, NC State broke from their bye and reaped the benefits. Penn State, Miami, Wisconsin and Colorado lost. By comparison, the highest ranking the Wolfpack received last season was No. 14 in the AP Poll.

The Pack won a 28-23 victory over Boston College in their last outing. The win was NC State’s fifth consecutive this season and they’re one of the few undefeated teams in the nation. Additionally, it’s their first, five-game winning streak since 2002 and their seventh one dating back to the 2017 season.

With one of the best running games in the conference, their half backs went off in predictable fashion. Reggie Gallaspy, Jr. finished with 104 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Their passing game remained explosive, despite two picks from NFL prospect Ryan Finley as Kelvin Harmon tallied nine catches for 128 yards with a touchdown and Jakobi Meyers got back on track with ten receptions for 99 yards of his own. They simply have the best offense in the ACC.

NC State used their bye week to recover from injuries before traveling to Death Valley to take on the reining conference champions Clemson Tigers. The Tigers are also undefeated at 6-0 (3-0 ACC) with blowout wins against Georgia Tech and Wake Forest in ACC play. An epic battle for the ACC Atlantic Division is looming.

Clemson comes in at No. 3 in the Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the AP Poll this week. With a win Saturday, Clemson will have an open path of light competition until the ACC championship game.  the Tigers have been a mainstay in the Top 5 of both polls for years under Dabo Swinney, typically making them the highest-ranked opponent NC State faces each year.

While Clemson has won the last six and 13 out of the last 14 games in this rivalry, the last two games have been separated by a single score. This year, the Tigers are vulnerable with a young QB under center. Clemson pulled out the last home game in overtime, 24-17, after a missed field goal by NC State at the end of the game. The Wolfpack made the game tight again last season at Carter-Finley Stadium, with a final of 38-31.

The Pack’s offense has even more firepower this year with Ryan Finley having six different receivers making their mark of the offensive side of the ball, a balanced running game and a defense that’s surprised many thus far this season.

While Clemson’s line is elite, the offensive output of the Wolfpack can throw them off. If Dave Doeren and his program want to have any chance of an ACC Championship Game appearance this year, knocking off the Tigers in Death Valley is a necessity.

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