College Football on Sling: N.C. State Faces Big Test at Clemson, Ohio State and Wisconsin in Big Ten Showdown

Oct 15, 2016 by Sling Staff

N.C. State (4-1) vs. #3 Clemson (6-0)
Noon ET Saturday, ABC & ESPN3

It’d be impossible to draw any conclusions from North Carolina State’s 10-3 win over Notre Dame, given that the whole affair was a rain-drenched clown show of fumbles, errant snaps, stumbling, and kicking missteps. N.C. State starting QB Ryan Finley had an atrocious day, completing just 5 of 12 for 27 yards, while rushing 6 times for -17 yards, and he fumbled 3 times – you’d be hard pressed to find a worse line for a winning QB, but he got help from running back Matthew Dayes, who carried 23 times for 126 yards. Notre Dame was helpless, as DeShone Kizer hit on just 9 of 26 for 54 yards and an interception, and four N.D. rushers combined for 59 yards on 38 carries. Both offenses were so hapless that the lone TD of the day was scored on a blocked punt.

Despite this soggy aberration, Finley’s been good this year, hitting on 69.5% for 10036 yards and 9 touchdowns without throwing an interception, and Dayes has been solid, rushing 98 times for 563 yards and 3 TDs, giving the Wolfpack a nicely balanced attack that averages 442 yards a game while having committed just 1 turnover a game. On defense, they do a good job stopping the run, allowing just 91 yards a game, eighth-best in the country, and their 279.8 yards total offense a game is also ranked eighth. All this comes with the caveat that up to this point N.C. State has had a relatively easy schedule, but that ends this week, as they finish their season against seven ACC foes, five of which are nationally ranked.

The first of those nationally ranked ACC foes is the best, Clemson, who are coming off a 56-10 drubbing of Boston College, in a game in which QB Deshaun Watson hit on just 14 of 24, but racked up 266 yards and 4 TDs, and running back Wayne Gallman chipped in with 109 yards and a TD on just 9 carries.

Watson has been a scoring machine, passing for 1568 yards and 18 TDs this year, with four receivers with more than 200 yards, led by Mike Williams’ 432. But it’s on D that Clemson will make you hurt, holding opponents to just 15 points a game, eighth-best in the land, while forcing 2.3 turnovers a game. They’re particularly adept at shutting down the passing game, allowing just 149 yards a game, with twice the interceptions as touchdowns, 1.5 to .7 per game.

#2 Ohio State (5-0) vs. #8 Wisconsin (4-1)
8pm ET on ABC & ESPN3

Ohio State was atypically merciful to the Indiana Hoosiers last week, as the 38-17 final represented the Buckeye offense’s lowest point total of the year, and the defense’s second-highest points allowed. J.T. Barrett struggled throughout, completing just 9 of 21 for 93 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, in what was one of the worst passing performances of his career, though he still managed to rush 26 times for 137 yards and a TD.

Still and all, Ohio State remains a force to be reckoned with, sporting the nation’s #3 scoring offense at 53.2 a game, and the #2 stingiest defense at 10.8 per game. On offense, they’ve scored 16 TDs on the ground and 16 through the air. Mike Weber has rushed for 566 yards and 4 TDs, Curtis Samuel for 410 and 3, while also leading the team in receptions, 23, and receiving yards, 345. There’s just too much to deal with. And on D they’re punishing, ranking among the 10 best in passing yards and rushing yards allowed, as well as penalty yards and turnovers. Their secondary causes night sweats wherever it goes, with 10 interceptions, including 4 by Malik Hooker, and 3 by Marshon Lattimore. They’re, like, super good.

But Ohio State has yet to face a team as highly ranked as the Wisconsin Badgers, who two weeks ago played Michigan tougher than anyone else has this season. The Badgers held Michigan’s vaunted offense to just two TDs, and were marching downfield for the tie when Jourdan Lewis made an “Oh my lord – did you see that??!?!!” one-handed interception near midfield with 2:15 to play.

It was a tough day for redshirt freshman QB Alex Hornibrook, who hit on just 9 of 25 for 88 yard and a TD, while throwing 3 interceptions. On the season, Hornibrook’s completed just 38 of 68 for 466 yards, 2 TDs and 5 INTs. If Coach Paul Chryst thinks Hornibrook’s not up to the task, he’s always got fifth-year senior Bart Houston waiting in the wings. The Badgers’ offense just isn’t that good, to be honest, averaging just 26 points and 360 yards per game.

The Badgers’ strength is on D, where they allow just 12.2 points a game, fourth-best in the country, and they sport the sixth-best running defense, allowing just 90.4 yards per game on 29 carries. It should fun watching them match up with the Buckeyes’ ground game.

ABC is available to Sling Orange subscribers with Broadcast Extra;
ESPN3 is available to Sling Orange subscribers with Sports Extra.

Friday October 14

Duke (3-3) vs. #7 Louisville (4-1)
7pm ET on ESPN

Saturday October 15

NC State (4-1) vs. #3 Clemson (6-0)
Noon ET on ABC & ESPN3

Kansas State (3-2) vs. #19 Oklahoma (3-2)
Noon ET on ESPN

#20 West Virginia (4-0) vs. Texas Tech (3-2)
Noon ET on FS1

#10 Nebraska (5-0) vs. Indiana (3-2)
3:30pm ET on ABC & ESPN2

North Carolina (4-2) vs. #16 Miami (4-1)
3:30pm ET on ABC & ESPN2

Wake Forest (5-1) vs. #14 Florida State (4-2)
3:30pm ET on ESPN

Kansas (1-4) vs. #11 Baylor (5-0)
3:30pm ET on FS1

#17 Virginia Tech (4-1) vs. Syracuse (2-4)
3:45pm ET on ESPNU

#12 Utah (5-1) vs. Oregon State (2-3)
4pm ET on Pac-12 Network

Missouri (2-3) vs. #18 Florida (4-1)
4pm ET on SEC Network

Tulsa (4-1) vs. #13 Houston (5-1)
7pm ET on ESPN2

#12 Ole Miss (3-2) vs. #22 Arkansas (4-2)
7pm ET on ESPN

#2 Ohio State (5-0) vs. #8 Wisconsin (4-1)
8pm ET on ABC & ESPN3

Colorado State (3-3) vs. #15 Boise State (5-0)
10:15pm ET on ESPN2

ESPN and ESPN2 are available to all Sling Orange subscribers;
ESPN3, ESPNU, and SEC Network are available to Sling Orange subscribers with Sports Extra;
ABC is available to Sling Orange subscribers with Broadcast Extra;
FS1 is available to all Sling Blue subscribers;
Pac-12 is available to all Sling subscribers with Sports Extra.

All stats courtesy ESPN and College Football Reference.

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