Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/19/11
Raleigh, NC --- The ugly game so many fans and pundits predicted finally came for the Clemson Tigers. But few would have imagined the Tigers would implode at N.C. State, of all places. That's exactly what happened Saturday evening at Carter-Finley Stadium, though, as N.C. State throttled seventh-ranked Clemson, 37-13. Clemson was bad as soon as it got off the bus. It was without injured star freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins, but you simply can't use this result to quantify his overall importance to Dabo Swinney's team. Clemson got its tailed kicked in by the hungry Wolfpack in every conceivable manner. "It's really not a complicated game," Swinney said, noting his team's myriad of mistakes. "Obviously, (I'm) disappointed in how we played, really embarrassed to be honest with you. A really poor job of coaches, poor job of playing, and there's no excuses." Clemson (9-2, 6-2 ACC) certainly helped out the Pack in the early going. A pair of early second-quarter fumbles allowed NCSU to take over at Clemson's 7 and 18-yard-lines on consecutive possessions. It led to 10 quick points and a 17-3 Wolfpack lead. A poor punt and nice return enabled N.C. State to begin its next possession at Clemson's 11. It scored two plays later, giving the Pack 24 points over its previous nine offensive snaps. The Wolfpack, which had scored a total of 23 points in its previous three contests, led 27-3 at the half. "We had a great practice all week, we certainly didn't play like we practiced," Swinney said. We had four turnovers. We put our defense in really, really poor shape to start this game and we just couldn't get the turn. We ran out of gas there and just weren't able to overcome it." N.C. State (6-5, 3-4) picked off a pair of Tajh Boyd passes in the end zone in the third quarter to pretty much squash whatever hopes the Tigers had at an amazing comeback. For Clemson, this was ugly. UGLY. It was the game that Maryland and Wake Forest looked like in stretches, but the Tigers overcame both foes to earn victories. Those Clemson teams didn't show up today. It was nowhere to be found. "In the game of football, you do the things that we did, most times you're going to get beat, especially with a team that grabs the momentum," said Swinney, whose team also allowed five sacks. "And that's what happened, they got the momentum and we never got it back." Clemson came into this weekend hanging on to hopes of still playing for a national championship. The odds were long, but with Oklahoma State losing to Iowa State on Friday night, the door opened just a little bit more. Losses by Arkansas (to LSU), Oregon (to USC), Alabama (to Auburn) and Oklahoma (to Oklahoma State) held together Clemson's hopes. But with this loss, not only are those faint hopes dashed, but Clemson likely will have to win out to finish ranked in the top-10. And given that Swinney has spoken so much about reached marks that had escaped the program over the last 20-plus years, the value of this defeat carries even greater weight. Clemson will still play for the ACC championship in two weeks in Charlotte, and it can get to the Orange Bowl for the first time since winning the national title in 1981. But this performance is the downer so many outside the program expected, but not within the team's walls. They didn't believe this season was business as usual the old Clemson way, and they still don't. "We have our team goals established," Boyd said. "We a big game coming up, it's the state championship, that's the main focus this week. We have to keep working. It's going to be a main point this week of focusing individually and as a team." It has to be, because anything resembling this effort won't do in any of the remaining games.
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