Monday Notes: Ten Within Reach

Streeter Lecka

One of the major goals for this program has been to reach ten wins. If Clemson beats the Wolfpack this weekend they will have accomplished just that. Ten wins is still an impressive mark, despite the fact Clemson hit that number last year. But it's also important to remember that prior to last year, Clemson hadn't won 10 games since 1990. That's a long time and the fact that Clemson is within reach with two regular season games left and a bowl game shows you just how far this program has come in the last few years.

Saturday’s win set the program record for most consecutive wins at Memorial Stadium, and the No.11 Tigers have nine wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1990-91. With a win over the Wolfpack, they’ll have back-to-back 10-win seasons, and will have the opportunity to reach that milestone in the regular season for the first time since the 1981 national title season.

Last Saturday has been discussed pretty thoroughly, but it's safe to say that if feels pretty good when you can play as sloppy as this team did at times and still win by 35 points. Now, this squad isn't going to be able to get away with playing sloppy on Saturday, and especially not a week from Saturday. A big takeaway from Saturday was just how dominant Clemson continues to be on offense, particularly through the air. While Maryland's offense was quite anemic on paper, their defense was probably the second best (after FSU) that Clemson has faced this year. If Clemson doesn't fumble on the Maryland goal line, they puts up 52 points with its second team playing a large chunk of the second half. That's impressive. I do worry about Clemson's ability (or inability) to put up quality production on the ground against better than average defenses.

Saturday marked the Tigers’ ninth consecutive game with at least 37 points, an ACC record. They’ve won six consecutive games by at least 14 points. It might not raise eyebrows nationally, but they just win, and comfortably.

Clemson opened up as 17 point favorites at BetOnline this evening, and that number has already been bet up 18 at most books. When a team covers every single game except one (Ball State), people are going to eventually take note. I thought you would see inflated lines the last few weeks, and you probably have, but Clemson continues to be a covering machine. Clemson is now 16-6 as a favorite at home under Dabo.

Clemson was a 45-10 winner in their most recent outing at home against Maryland. They covered the 31.5-point spread as favorites, while the total score (55) made winners of UNDER bettors. Current streak: Clemson has won 6 straight games. Team records: North Carolina State: 6-4 SU, 3-6-1 ATS Clemson: 9-1 SU, 8-2 ATS

NC State comes to down this weekend off a throttling of Wake Forest at home. If you can get a read on this Wolfpack team this season then you are a better person than me. They beat FSU at home and then a few weeks later get throttled at home against a UVA squad that hadn't won a road game all year. One interesting stat: the Wolfpack are 3-0 against Atlantic Division teams and 0-3 against Coastal teams.

NC State came out with some actual purpose on Saturday, and the result was one of the better first quarters the team has played all year. An early fumble ended one scoring opportunity, but it didn't make much difference, as State killed the Deacs on both sides of the ball in the opening period.

Tom O'Brien's team is going to pose a different set of challenges than what Clemson faced last weekend. The Wolfpack offense is very proficient through the air, sitting at third in the ACC in that category (behind Clemson and FSU respectively). Good news for the Clemson defense (which has struggled against the run overall this season) is that NC State has struggled offensively running the ball on the ground sitting at 111th in the country. Yikes.

Everything that went wrong for N.C. State against Virginia last week, went right against Wake Forest on Saturday. The Wolfpack found its running game and defense to refocus after a disastrous loss to Virginia for a 37-6 win over the Demon Deacons. With 110 rushing yards for freshman Shadrach Thornton, N.C. State (6-4) clinched a bowl bid third straight year and fourth time in five years. The Demon Deacons (5-5) fell to .500, and lost in Raleigh for the 13th time in 14 years. N.C. State's defense, gashed by Virginia in a 33-6 home loss last Saturday, held the Demon Deacons to 185 yards of total offense and 16 rushing yards on 23 attempts.

A quick look at the updated BCS standings show Clemson moving up two spots to #11 due to the losses of Oregon State and Louisville who both were ahead of the Tigers. In order to get an at-large spot, Clemson will have to finish inside the top 14, which it will easily do if it wins its two remaining games. If Clemson slips up Saturday or against South Carolina then BCS dreams are likely shot. A number of projections coming out today have the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl, including Jerry Palm, Brad Edwards, and College Football News. Sure we still have to take care of business the next two weekends, but we're fans so we're allowed to look ahead to potential matchups. An Alabama team that was compared to some NFL teams (whether Spurrier was trolling or not) could serve as a serious litmus test for this program. The same could be said for a bowl game against Florida or Georgia. Still a ton to play out before any of this transpires, but it's fun to think about especially with the ACC title game now out of the picture.

Alabama’s loss to the Aggies on Saturday night reverberated throughout all of college football, and it had a trickle-down effect in the latest BCS standings right into the heart of ACC country. With Florida State holding steady at No. 10 and Clemson moving up to No. 11 in the latest BCS standings, the door to two BCS bids opened a little bit wider. The latest projections have Clemson heading to the Allstate Sugar Bowl to face the SEC champ -- if, of course, the Tigers can beat rival South Carolina in their regular-season finale. "If Clemson wins out, that’s kind of a no-brainer right there -- Southern team, Southern bowl game," said ESPN’s BCS guru, Brad Edwards, on the BCS Countdown show.

A win Saturday gives Clemson a share of the ACC division, a ten win season, and would set up a colossal showdown with South Carolina for a spot in a potential spot in a BCS game. Clemson has coasted at home this season, but it cannot look past this game. Remembering what happened last year in Raleigh should provide plenty of ammunition for this squad to stay focused in practice this week and put a complete effort on the field on Saturday.

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