Florida State is ranked No. 1 in the country in total defense and No. 3 in scoring defense. On Sept. 22 in Tallhassee, Clemson scored 37 points and had 426 total yards against the Seminoles.
That game exemplifies the challenge of defending Clemson's explosive spread offense that features potential All-ACC players at quarterback, running back, receiver and tight end.
Other than a 295-yard effort against Virginia Tech that can partly be written off since the Tigers had a 74-yard pick six in that contest, Clemson has not been held to fewer than 426 total yards. They've scored at least 37 points in ever game except the season-opener when they had 26 against Auburn in Atlanta. Clemson has scored at least 41 points seven out of 10 games.
What the numbers show is that even a good defense would have a hard time containing Clemson's offense, and thus the best defense may be a good offense.
"I think we understand what kind of team they are," fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Glennon said. "They have a real high-powered offense. As an offense we have to do our job of keeping them off the field. We want to stay on the field as long as possible. We don't want them to have too many explosive plays on our defense."
Glennon knows that this has been an up and down season for the Wolfpack, but his sole focus now is to finish his senior season strong. It starts against Clemson, who ironically was the victim of a 37-13 NC State upset a year ago in Raleigh.
That year though the defense was coordinated by Kevin Steele. He was replaced in the offseason by Brent Venables.
"They are similar in ways, but they have their differences," Glennon noted. "Now that it's game 11, they have adjusted to their new system.
"Clemson is always going to have an athletic group. They are going to have good pass rushers, athletic DB's. I think it's a typical group from what we have faced in the past. They are playing really good football."
Indeed, in its last three games Clemson has held all three opposing offenses under 350 yards of total offense, and last week limited Maryland to 180 yards. This came after the Tigers had allowed four straight opponents to reach 400 yards minimum and gave up 667 yards to Florida State.
"They are a top-10 team for a reason," Glennon stated. "It'll be a good challenge for us."