Clemson Tigers at North Carolina State Wolfpack (+13.5, 66.5)
North Carolina State looks to slow down Heisman Trophy candidate Tajh Boyd on Thursday when the Wolfpack host fourth-ranked Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams. Boyd accounted for an ACC-record eight touchdowns in last season’s 62-48 victory over the Wolfpack and the senior quarterback threw for three scores and ran for two more in Clemson's season-opening 38-35 win over Georgia. The Tigers have won eight of the last nine meetings, but were upset during their last visit to Raleigh in 2011.
Clemson lost its second-leading receiver for the season when junior Charone Peake suffered a torn ACL during practice last week, but the Tigers still have plenty of weapons. Senior running back Roderick McDowell is averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins had 127 yards receiving and a touchdown against Georgia. “They just score in bunches early in games and go up on people early,” said Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren. “We’ve got to do a great job of trying to stay in the game early.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: Clemson opened -14 and has been bet down under the key number to -13.5. The total opened at 65.5 and has been moved to 66.5 points.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the mid 60s and partly cloudy skies with a 2 percent chance of rain. Winds ESE at 4 mph.
ABOUT CLEMSON (2-0, 1-1 ATS): After opening its season with a 38-35 victory over Georgia, the Tigers routed South Carolina State 52-13 before its bye week. Clemson is averaging 37.7 points since offensive coordinator Chad Morris took over in 2011, and the defense has shown improvement since allowing nearly 600 total yards against the Wolfpack last season. Senior linebacker Spencer Shuey had a team-high 18 tackles against Georgia, and defensive end Vic Beasley added two sacks.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (2-0, 1-1 ATS): The Wolfpack opened with a 40-14 victory over Louisiana Tech before committing four turnovers and 10 penalties in a 23-21 win over Richmond on Sept. 7. Junior defensive end Art Norman was named the ACC defensive lineman of the week after the Richmond game, and senior linebackers Zach Gentry and Robert Caldwell will need to continue their strong play against the explosive Clemson offense. Junior quarterback Pete Thomas has three interceptions and no touchdowns since taking over for Brandon Mitchell, who injured his foot in the season opener.
* Tigers are 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings in North Carolina State.
* Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Underdog is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Road team is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 meetings.
1. Doeren is 14-0 at home in two years at Northern Illinois and two games with the Wolfpack.
2. Nine of the last 16 games in the series have been decided by eight points or fewer.
3. Clemson has a 2-9 record in ESPN Thursday night games, but seven of the nine losses have come to Top 25 teams.