For most of the day Saturday, No. 3 Clemson did not look the part of a College Football Playoff contender.
But despite sloppy play, red-zone mishaps, four turnovers, ill-timed fourth-quarter penalties — and thanks to a lucky break when N.C. State's Kyle Bambard missed a field goal that would have beaten them at the end of regulation — the Tigers managed to hold off North Carolina State at home 24-17 in overtime to move to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC.
Deshaun Watson was strong for the Tigers, 39-for-52 passing for 378 yards and two touchdowns, including an overtime score, a 10-yard TD pass to Artavis Scott. But he also tossed an interception that went for a North Carolina State touchdown. Running back Matt Dayes (106 rushing yards) led the Wolfpack attack.
The Tigers sealed the victory when Marcus Edmond intercepted Ryan Finley's pass in the end zone. With the narrow escape, Clemson's path to the ACC title game and the College Football Playoffs still are all clear.
The Tigers gave up 397 to the Wolfpack (4-2, 1-1).
Clemson took a big hit early on when running back Wayne Gallman came out, looking woozy and out of it as he headed to the locker room. Gallman, the team’s leading rusher, did not return.
Receiver Hunter Renfrow, who had six catches in his first game since Sept. 10 because of a broken hand, was hurt in the fourth quarter and came out the rest of the way.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack look like a team on the rise, one of the few the past two season that has been able to take the Tigers down to the wire.
Clemson: The Tigers probably won’t gain much support in the rankings with its tight victory at home. But in the end, it might not matter if they are standing on top of the league with a perfect record.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack head to No. 7 Louisville where they are 0-3 all time, including a 30-18 defeat two years ago.
Clemson: The Tigers get the week off before traveling to Florida State on Oct. 29. Clemson has won just once (2006) in its past 12 visits to Tallahassee.
© 2018 Associated Press