NC State football (4-0, 0-0 ACC) and Clemson (4-0, 2-0) first played over 100 years ago in 1899, but Saturday's top 10 game will go down as the most important matchup between the two.
For the first time in school history, No. 10 NC State will play in an AP Top 10 game, attempting to end No. 5 Clemson's 36-game home winning streak which has been the base of its ACC dominance over the last decade.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. as Hurricane Ian, and the possibility of inclement weather looms around the weekend's most anticipated game.
Dave Doeren against ranked opponents
This may be NC State's first top-10 matchup in school history, but coach Dave Doeren has had several top-25 battles over the last 10 years. It's not a flattering record, however.
The Wolfpack are 2-5 in games where both teams are ranked, including last year's 45-42 loss to No. 16 Wake Forest in a game that would've sent NC State to its first ACC title game with a win. Doeren is also 0-2 against Clemson in ranked games, but most recently snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Tigers with a 27-21 double-overtime win in 2021. He's 0-3 against Clemson at Memorial Stadium.
“We are going to embrace the opportunity of being there, and we know a lot that goes with it,” Doeren said earlier this week. “I think it’s something to celebrate for sure. It’s not something to say ‘We have arrived yet.’ The rankings at the end matter a lot more than they do after the fourth week.”
It appears that Clemson's secondary will be reinvigorated against NC State.
According to the depth chart, safety Andrew Mukuba, cornerback Sheridan Jones and nickel back Malcolm Greene all missed last week's 51-45 double-overtime victory at Wake Forest and the result was Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman throwing for six touchdowns.
Doeren said earlier this week that junior running back Jordan Houston will return after suffering a head injury against Texas Tech and missing last week's game against UConn. Nickel Tyler Baker-Williams is also back on the depth chart after missing last week with an ankle injury. Defensive back Shyheim Battle is still day-to-day with his injury but was listed as a starter on this week's depth chart.
Can NC State's defense stop DJ Uiagalelei
The Wolfpack have done it before, holding Uiagalelei to 111 yards on 12 of 26 passing last year during the double overtime victory at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The defense sacked the Clemson signal-caller twice but did allow him to gain 63 yards on the ground and throw two touchdowns while picking him off once.
But while Uiagalelei was heavily criticized for his play last year and early in 2022, he's coming off a 371-yard, five-touchdown performance against Wake Forest last weekend. This will be the toughest challenge NC State's defense has faced this season — by a long shot — while also trying to slow down sophomore running back Will Shipley.
If the weather turns bad, and it's likely that will happen, it could be a huge advantage for the defense.
“Let it get as nasty as it can. Our guys will like that," defensive coordinator Todd Gibson said. "Obviously, we have to keep a great functional base. We can’t be falling around, especially with the quarterback run game. If it gets nasty and wet, I’m sure they’re going to use him a bunch, so we have to be able to get an extra guy in the box or whatever we need to do to stop it.”
Will Hurricane Ian affect 'College GameDay' broadcast?
With Hurricane Ian expected to bring high winds and heavy rain to the Upstate on Saturday, ESPN is considering indoor options for its "College GameDay" program.
Anticipating inclement weather in the Columbia area, South Carolina on Tuesday moved its football game against S.C. State from noon Saturday to 7 p.m. Thursday.
"College GameDay," which features Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, David Pollack and Pat McAfee, will be making its eighth appearance on the Clemson campus.
History of success in hurricane conditions
This won't be the first time Doeren and the Wolfpack have played in hurricane conditions.
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew dumped up to 8 inches of water on Raleigh during NC State's 10-3 win over Notre Dame. Running back Matthew Days and quarterback Jalan McClendon combined for nearly 200 yards rushing, but the lone touchdown came early in the fourth quarter when Pharoah McKeavor blocked a Notre Dame punt which was picked up by Dexter Wright who returned it 16 yards for a touchdown.
NC State 14, Clemson 13: With Hurricane Ian heading toward South Carolina on Saturday, expect conditions to be as bad as possible for a football game. This will be a wet and wild affair that will be a cornerstone of this rivalry for years to come.
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: NC State football vs. Clemson: Scouting report, score prediction