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Tigers, Wolfpack Prep for Thursday Night Clash

By Carlos Pineda
SouthernPigskin.com
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A win versus Georgia means little in the grand scheme if the Clemson Tigers (2-0) can't take care of business in the ACC.

"They kicked our butts up there two years ago. That was one of the most miserable games that I have ever been through. We didn't even give ourselves a chance."
~Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney

The Clemson Tigers got off to the start they needed.

By beating fifth-ranked Georgia in the season opener, the Tigers took care of an "elephants in the room."

No. 3 Clemson has set an early tone to its season, but the next elephant comes in the form of N.C. State this Thursday night at Carter-Finley Stadium. A win versus Georgia means little in the grand scheme if the Tigers (2-0) can't take care of business in the ACC. Any hopes of being a national championship contender could easily flounder with a loss. Just ask Florida State.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney understands this, and on Tuesday, he told reporters his Tigers "have to play our best game, to this point."

He undoubtedly remembers what happened two years ago when the Tigers last visited Raleigh.

The Tigers, then ranked No. 7, lost 37-13 after falling behind 27-3. They committed four turnovers in the process and didn't score a touchdown until late in the game.

"They kicked our butts up there two years ago," Swinney said. "That was one of the most miserable games that I have ever been through. We didn't even give ourselves a chance."

That romp served as a lesson for Clemson, and in particular, Tajh Boyd, who was in his first season as the Tigers' starting quarterback.

"It's not always going to be great," Swinney said. "You have to handle adversity too. He was a first-year starter and all of a sudden it is not coming as easy and he's not playing as well. It was just a good opportunity for him to get better."

This season, Boyd has completed 60 percent of passes for 439 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on the way to the team's highest ranking in 25 years. He has averaged 219.5 yards per game and the Clemson offense is averaging 489.5 yards per game.

RELATED: Not the Same Ol' Clemson

For N.C. State, its offense has featured a balanced-attack, with the Wolfpack passing for 280.5 yards per game and rushing for 212.5 yards per game. Quarterback Pete Thomas has averaged 224.5 passing yards this season, completing 67.2 percent of his passes, despite throwing three interceptions and no touchdowns. 

Thursday night marks the first game against an ACC team for Dave Doeren since he arrived at N.C. State. The 2-0 Wolfpack have an opportunity to make a statement early on in the Doeren era versus a top five team.

Adding to the storyline is N.C. State's uncanny ability to upset top 10 teams each of the past two years at Carter-Finley Stadium. Last season No. 3 Florida State saw its national championship aspirations burst after it lost 17-16 to the Wolfpack.

"I don't really have to look at the history," Doeren told reporters Tuesday. "I just tell them, 'Hey look guys, a lot of people are saying you don't have a chance in this game. But everyone in here that has played here knows that you do, because of what you did last year when Florida State came in here and the year before with Clemson.'"

Clemson (2-0) at N.C. State (2-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

TV: ESPN

Series: The Textile Bowl, Clemson leads 52-28-1

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.