Quick hits and notes from NC State's 37-13 stunner over No. 7 Clemson in front of 57,583 pleasantly surprised Wolfpack fans at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh Saturday afternoon.
Big win in many more ways than one
Many fans and analysts wrote off the prospects of NC State going to a bowl game since the Pack needed to win out to do so, and NCSU has not beaten Clemson in seven straight tries.
But the Pack upset Clemson in one of the most dominating performance in recent years against a ranked opponent. State beat a top-10 team for the first time since they knocked off No. 9 Florida State in 2005. The Pack has not defeated a top-10 team at home since 1998 when State beat No. 2 FSU 24-7.
The win was the second-most lopsided over a ranked foe under head coach Tom O'Brien only to the 41-10 drubbing of No. 25 UNC in 2008. The last time NCSU had such a lopsided win over Clemson at home was 1986 (27-3) and against the Tigers overall was 2002 (38-6).
O'Brien is now 7-5 against ranked opponents as the head coach at NC State and 14-8 all-time dating back to his days at Boston College.
Senior receiver T.J. Graham moved ahead of former Maryland receiver Torrey Smith for the ACC's most career kickoff return yards with 2,989. Smith's previous record was 2,983. Graham's most exciting play however came on punt return. He had a 34-yard return before stepping out of bounds at the Clemson 11, setting up a touchdown run by redshirt freshman Tony Creecy. Had Graham scored on that return, it would have been his fifth return for a score in his career.
Sophomore cornerback David Amerson had yet another interception, picking off a pass from Clemson redshirt sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd at the NC State 1. Amerson's 11th interception of the season ties former UNC corner Dre Bly for the most picks in a single season in the ACC.
Junior safety Brandan Bishop had his ninth career interception in the game as well. That gives State 22 picks on the year, one behind the most in a year for the school. State had 23 picks in 1948 and 1965.
Fifth-year senior tight end George Bryan's 11-yard touchdown catch was the 16th score of his career, moving him to sole possession of fifth place all-time, one short of tying Eddie Goines for fourth most.
Second quarter explosion
NC State outscored Clemson 27-0 in the second quarter, dominating in all facets of the game. The Tigers had just 19 yards of total offense in those 15 minutes, and State had its highest scoring output in a quarter since they put up 31 versus Eastern Kentucky in 2005. Clemson had not allowed that many points in a period since Wake Forest scored 28 on them in 2003.
The NCSU defense continues its recent string of stout performances. State has held opponents to just three touchdowns in the last three games, and Clemson's score came on an "oh by the way" drive with the backups in the game for the final three minutes.
The Tigers had 337 yards of total offense, the second fewest of the year behind a 323-yard effort against Virginia Tech. Before its final possession, a 68-yard touchdown drive, Clemson had 249 yards of offense. The Tigers were held to just 34 yards rushing and gave up six sacks. The game represented a season-low for rushing yards for Clemson and also was the most sacks they have given up.
What the win means
State improves to 6-5 on the year and 3-4 in the ACC. The Pack needs to beat Maryland next week at home to clinch bowl eligibility. NC State also takes back the Textile Bowl trophy for the first time since 2003.
Clemson continues to lead the all-time series against NCSU, now 51-28-1. Clemson has a slight 18-16 edge in games played in Raleigh. The Tigers fall to 9-2 with the loss and close their ACC schedule with a 6-2 record. They will represent the Altantic Division in the ACC title game against either Virginia Tech or Virginia.
Spotted at the game
Several of NC State's commitments were at the game:
Cornerback Marchez Coates from McDonough High in Pomfret, Md.
Offensive lineman Eddie Gordon from Boiling Springs (S.C.) High
Tight end David Grinnage from Newark (Del.) High
Linebacker Majid Salahuddin from Jack Britt High in Fayetteville, N.C.
Quarterback Manny Stocker from Coatesville (Pa.) Area High
Also at the game were three official visitors:
Safety Jarnor Jones from Martin Luther King High in Lithonia, Ga.
Offensive lineman Quincy McKinney from Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy
Defensive end Kenderius Whitehead from Martin Luther King High in Lithonia, Ga.
Noted unofficial visitors included:
Offensive lineman Jonathan McLaughlin from Mauldin (S.C.) High
Defensive end Desmond Owino from Sanderson High in Raleigh
Lineman J.J. Patterson from Roanoke Rapids (N.C.) High (UNC commitment)
Junior defensive end Lewis Neal from Hunt High in Wilson, N.C.
There were also bowl scouts from the Champs Sports Bowl, who also attended Clemson's postgame press conference, and a scout from the New York Giants.