Are they legit? Who have they played? What have they done to deserve that 16th ranking?
NC State had the opportunity to answer these questions and silence all the haters when they traveled to Clemson to take on the 3rd ranked Tigers. A win would undoubtedly add validation to their undefeated record and officially garner them respect not only in the ACC, but nationally. That would not be the case Saturday as the Tigers immediately pounced on NC State – jumping out to an early lead and defensively never allowing Finley and company to get into a rhythm.
“It just didn’t go our way,” coach Dave Doeren said after the 41-7 defeat. “It’s 14-0, we have the ball at the 50 and we turned it over two straight series. It just got away from us. We couldn’t get in a rhythm. 3rd down was really hard for us today. Offensively it’s been a strength and it wasn’t today. For us, rhythm is important and we didn’t have it.”
Ryan Finley, who was held to under 200 yards passing for the first time this season, echoed the same thing, but said this loss is just a bump in the road.
“We just never really got into a rhythm and that hurts because we’re a rhythm offense, but we’re going to get right. We’re going to bounce back. I’m confident in our guys. We’re great players and we have a good offense. I think this was just a bump in the road.”
A lone bright-spot of the game was the play of the offensive line, who relatively held their own against one of the best defensive fronts in the nation. But for everything the offensive line did to protect Ryan Finley, his receivers did him no favors – dropping several 3rd down passes.
“We just didn’t bring our best game today,” said Jakobi Meyers who finished the game with 61 receiving yards. “When you come into a stadium like this, against a team like this, you have to come with all you’ve got and I don’t think we showed up like we usually do.”
With the luxury of controlling their own destiny no longer available, the Wolfpack will have to move on – as they’ll face another tough road game next week when they travel to Syracuse.
“It’s definitely a disappointment, but there’s a lot of football left,” Coach Doeren said. “Anything can happen. We just don’t control our own destiny anymore. They have to play Boston College in November up there and we’ve got to hope for a little bit of luck. It’s a setback for sure, but it doesn’t put us back in the dark ages as a program. We’ve just got to get back to work, roll our sleeves back up and fix it.”