(Photo Courtesy USA Today Sports)
The final score says Clemson took care of business on the road against NC State and that is part of the story, but it isn't the full story. One play midway through the 3rd quarter changed this game forever and left Wolfpack fans wondering what if and Clemson fans breathing a sigh of relief.
What play are we talking about? Well, after consecutive 3 and outs for the Wolfpack offense Matt Canada, NC State's offensive coordinator, went to the well and called receiver Bryan Underwood's number on a jet sweep.
It appeared to work as he got the edge, turned up field and appeared to tight rope the sideline to a huge touchdown to put NC State up. Only, that never happened because a ref believed Underwood to have stepped out on the Clemson 47 yard line.
Problem is…. Yep, you guessed it, Underwood never stepped out.
What ensued tells the story of the game.
Two plays later Wolfpack quarterback Pete Thomas was sacked and fumbled the ball. Clemson recovered the ball and went right down the field to score and extend their lead to 20-7 on a 30-yard pass from Tajh Boyd to Martavis Bryant.
So, instead of a minimum tie ball game or a likely NC State 14-13 lead, the Wolfpack found themselves down by two scores and they never recovered fully from the points getting taken off the board.
Of course, Clemson also had something to do with NC State losing this football game too and specifically Tajh Boyd to Martavis Bryant. Boyd hooked up with the freshman 6 times for 73 yards and two of the teams' three TDs on the game.
The Clemson QB finished the game 24-of-37 for 244 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
Defensively it was Vic Beasley doing the damage and keeping the Wolfpack offense down. Beasley finished the game with five tackles, three sacks and the forced fumble on the play that changed the game. He gave the NC State offensive line fits all game long.
Clemson held the Wolfpack to just 3-of-16 on 3rd down conversions and if it weren't for a ridiculous four 4th down conversions on the 23 play touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter the Tigers would've played near flawless defensive football.
At the end of the day, the Tigers avoided “Clemsoning” themselves and it was more about what they did than what the refs called that changed the course of this game. However, if you are NC State you will always wonder what could’ve been had they given that touchdown to you.