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NC State at Clemson: Talent Comparison

No. 5 Clemson and No. 10 NC State both look to keep control of their own destiny in the ACC as the two teams do battle this weekend in a matchup of Top 10 teams.
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For the first time in its history, the Textile Bowl features two teams ranked inside of the Top 10.

No. 5 Clemson hosts No. 10 NC State Saturday night in college football's marquee matchup of the weekend, as ESPN's "College GameDay" will also be on hand.

It's a critical matchup for control of the ACC Atlantic, with the Tigers looking to avenge last season's double-overtime loss in Raleigh, and the Wolfpack looking to win consecutive games in the series for the first time since 2002-03. The last time NC State won in Death Valley was that 2003 season.

The Tigers come in having won 10 straight games, the longest in the winning streak in the FBS. Clemson's won 36 consecutive home games, which is also the longest streak in the country. A win on Saturday would tie the program with Florida State for most consecutive home wins in ACC history.

Talent Comparison

Quarterback

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

DJ Uiagalelei (CU)

2020/5*

1 (Pro Style)

10

Devin Leary (NCST)

2018/4*

16 (Pro)

372

Four games into the season, Uiagalelei looks like a different player compared to what we saw in 2021. With each passing week, the junior quarterback has gotten better, as his confidence continues to skyrocket. While his overall numbers this season are better than Leary's, the NC State quarterback has been a model of consistency over the past couple of seasons.

Advantage: Slight NC State

Running Back

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

Will Shipley (CU)

2021/5*

2

32

Phil Mafah (CU)

2021/4*

11

185

Kobe Pace (CU)

2020/3*

32

451

Jordan Houston (NCST)

2019/3*

6 (APB)

657

Demie Sumo-Karngbaye

2021/3*

83

1161

Both of these teams take a running back by committee type of approach, with the Wolfpack featuring two backs for the most part, while the Tigers have three. Clemson comes in averaging 4.8 YPC, while NC State averages 4.4. With the weather looking like it might be a huge factor on Saturday night, the team that runs it best just might have the advantage.

Advantage: Slight Clemson

Wide Receiver

PlayerClass/RankPosition RankOverall Rank

Joseph Ngata (CU)

2019/4*

9

52

Beaux Collins

2021/4*

12

86

Antonio Williams

2022/4*

6

61

Devin Carter (NCST)

2018/3*

739

115

Thayer Thomas 

2017/ Former Walk On

NA

NA

Keyon Lesane

2019/3*

136

1197

On paper, Clemson certainly has the talent, but NC State boasts a wealth of experience, along with multiple players having vastly surpassed their recruiting rankings. The Tigers bring in a group of talented wideouts, many of which are still growing, but also a group that is coming off its best effort of the season. However, experience wins out here.

Advantage: NC State

Tight End

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

Davis Allen (CU)

2019/3*

39

807

Jake Briningstool

2021/4*

1

61

Cedd Seabrough (NCST)

2021/3*

39

755

Christopher Toudle

2019/3*

118

1081

For the first time in several seasons, the Tigers are making a concerted effort to get the tight ends more involved in the passing game. Allen and Bringinstool both provide Uiagalelei with more than a safety valve, as both can stretch the field and make plays down the field.

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Advantage: Clemson

Offensive Line

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

LT Jordan McFadden (CU)

2018/3*

66

819

LG Marcus Tate

2021/4*

8 (

127

C Will Putnam

2019/4*

101

RG Walker Parks

2020/4*

5 (OT)

50

RT Blake Miller

2022/4*

16

208

LT Anthony Belton (NCST)

2021/3* (JUCO)

7

44

LG Chandler Zavala

2017/NR

NR

NR

C Grant Gibson

2017/3*

38 (DL)

459

RG Dylan McMahon

2019/3*

12 (C)

787

RT Bryson Speas

2017/3*

76 (OG)

1650

Once again, on paper, Clemson has the talent advantage, but the Wolfpack come in with a lot of experience up front. Putnam has made a smooth transition to center for the Tigers, but there have been some growing pains with starting the true freshman Miller at RT. On a positive note, the group has gotten better with each passing week, and with rain in the forecast, the play up front will be that much more important. However, it's also worth noting Clemson tends to struggle at times with the odd fronts that the Wolfpack employs, as Dave Doeren's team uses a 3-3-5 look.

Advantage: NC State

Defensive Line

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

DE K.J. Henry (CU)

2018/5*

3

14

DT Bryan Bresee

2020/5*

1

1

DT Tyler Davis

2019/4*

12

137

DE Myles Murphy

2020/5*

1

7

LDE Davin Yann

2020/4*

26 (DT)

244

NT Corey Durden

2017/3*

24

361

RDE Savion Jackson

2019/4*

11 (SDE)

168

You'll be hard-pressed to find a program that out-talents the Tigers along the defensive line. It's arguably the most talented in the nation. Having said that, it hasn't always looked that way through the first four games. Clemson can ill-afford to allow Leary the time that Sam Hartman had last weekend, meaning this group must be even more disruptive. At the same time, don't let the recruiting rankings fool you, NC State will bring a pretty stout group of defensive linemen to Death Valley. One of the best the Tigers will see this season.

Advantage: Clemson

Linebacker

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

SAM Barret Carter

2021/5*

3

33

MIKE Jeremiah Trotter Jr.

2021/4*

5

37

WILL Trenton Simpson

2020/5*

1 (OLB)

26

SLB Drake Thomas

2019/3*

29 (ILB)

581

MLB Isaiah Moore

2017/3*

54 (OLB)

798

WLB Payton Wilson

2018/4*

4 (OLB)

79

This is the strength of that NC State defense that is only allowing 262 yards of offense per game. They are extremely experienced, well-coached, and do all of the little things right. While they may not technically be the most talented group of backers in the ACC, they just might be the best. The Tigers have plenty of talent themselves, but with Carter and Trotter both first-year starters and Simpson in a new position, there have been some communication issues through the first four games.

Advantage: NC State

Secondary

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

CB Nate Wiggins (CU)

2021/4*

7

118

CB Sheridan Jones 

2019/4*

15

130

SS Andrew Mukuba

2021/4*

8

167

FS Jalyn Phillips

2019/3*

37

448

CB Fred Davis

2020/4*

7

53

LCB Derrek Pitts Jr (NCST)

2021/3*

32 (ATH)

460

SS Cyrus Fagan

2021/4*

13

97

FS Tanner Ingle

2018/3*

80 (CB)

904

NB Tyler Baker-Williams

2018/3*

195 (WR)

1323

RCB Shyheim Battle

2019/3*

42

414

Clemson's secondary has been much-maligned, especially after allowing 337 passing yards and six touchdowns last week in the double-overtime win over Wake Forest. It's also been littered with injuries, as Jones, Mukuba, as well as nickel back Malcolm Greene, were all out against the Demon Deacons. Jones and Mukuba have missed the past two games. The Tigers are hoping to get at least some of those guys back this week, but nothing is set in stone. 

On the other side, NC State features a lot of experience on the backend, even if some weren't what you would consider blue-chip talents, as the Wolfpack has been very good at developing players in that secondary over the years.

Advantage: NC State

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