The last time Clemson faced NC State as a single-digit favorite, the Wolfpack won the game outright.
That was 2011, NC State's last win in the series. Heading into Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game, the No. 9 Tigers opened as a double-digit favorite earlier this week, but the betting line came down to -9.5 points by Friday for the road team before going back up to -10 on Saturday morning.
It's proving to be a volatile number in the market and it'll be interesting to see where it ends up before kickoff. That half-point is important. The betting line of 10 is a key number and determines if the Tigers are a single- or double-digit favorite.
It's not a surprise that the betting market hasn't quite settled on Clemson-NC State. After all, the Tigers failed to come remotely close to covering a 28-point line last week in a 14-8 victory over Georgia Tech.
Clemson was a single-digit favorite at Notre Dame last year, where they lost in overtime in quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei's second career start. The Tigers were a short favorite earlier this month in Charlotte against Georgia, which edged Clemson 10-3 in Week 1.
The Wolfpack easily covered against USF, lost a road game by two touchdowns to Mississippi State and blew out Furman last week to improve to 2-1 against the spread. The Tigers have yet to cover a line this season, but they have won 14 of the last 15 matchups with NC State straight up and covered the spread in four of the last six.
The trend of this line means Clemson could be in trouble to win outright, but the odds are still in their favor with a moneyline of -400, which didn't change for the uptick. For the Tigers to cover, it's going to take an improved offensive effort. They've scored 17 combined points in two games against FBS teams.
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Dabo Swinney and company feel like they're close to getting back on track on that side of the ball. The defense has been the stalwart of the squad. Clemson and Texas A&M are the only two teams in the country to have not allowed an offensive touchdown this season.
If Uiagalelei can get going more in the run game with freshman back Will Shipley, it could open up some downfield passing that's been severely lacking in this attack. That could allow the offense to finally put up enough points to cover a spread.
It's inevitable that the defense will give up a touchdown at some point, and NC State has some weapons in running backs Bam Knight and Ricky Person Jr. and quarterback Devin Leary to move the football. But if the Tigers can make the Wolfpack, which averaged only 1.4 yards per carry at MSU, one-dimensional and force Leary to beat them with his arm, Clemson might not need a ton of offense to flirt with a cover and secure an important victory at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The point total of 47 sets the stage for potentially a low-scoring, tighter affair.
Spread: NC State
Best bet (1-2): Taking Clemson and giving up that many points were bad advice, but like Tony Elliott and the Tiger offense, we never saw that kind of struggle coming. But let's move on. It's windshield mentality around here. The best bet is a play on the first-half under 23.5 points. Both defenses will come out fired up, and neither offense has gotten off to great starts against Power-5 competition. Look for low points in the first 30 minutes and take the rest of the game off.
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