DALLAS (FWAA) The North Carolina State Wolfpack upset No. 9 Clemson in overtime, 27-21, toppling their division foe and six-time ACC champion for the first time in nine tries since 2011. For their first win over a top-10 team since 2012, N.C. State earned the Cheez-It Bowl National Team of the Week honor for games of weekend of Sept. 25, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.
This is just the second time for N.C. State (3-1) to earn this honor from the FWAA and its first since 2012 when it upset then-No. 3 Florida State, 17-16.
Sophomore quarterback Devin Leary was outstanding, completing 32 of 44 passes for 238 yards with four touchdowns without an interception. He continually escaped Clemson's rush that is one of the nation's best at pressuring the backfield and mixed his passes to 10 different receivers and capped the win with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Devin Carter, who made a fine catch in the back of the end zone on the Wolfpack's second overtime possession. Leary's four scoring passes went to three different receivers and N.C. State became the first team to score an offensive touchdown against Clemson this season when Leary hit Emeka Emezie on a nine-yard scoring play to end the first quarter. Emezie finished with a career-high 14 passes for 116 yards and the touchdown.
The Wolfpack defense did its part holding Clemson to eight rushing yards and just 87 total yards in the first half. The teams were tied at halftime 7-7, only the ninth time under Dabo Swinney that the Tigers were tied after two quarters.
"We didn't flinch. The curse is broken. Finally," head coach Dave Doeren said. "We've been here nine years and seen a lot of crazy stuff. People talked a lot about it. I think it (the curse) was real. And it's over. We can move on now and be happy about it. Our quarterback (Devin Leary) was incredible."
In winning the rivalry game dubbed the Textile Bowl, N.C. State snapped Clemson's 36-game win streak against teams unranked in the Associated Press poll, a string that dated to the 2017 season. The Wolfpack now have four wins over top-10 Clemson teams in the series (1987, '88 and 2011).
This is the 20th season the FWAA will select a national team of the week. Each honored team will receive a custom Cheez-It "care package" along with a hand-crafted game ball made in America by Dallas-based Big Game USA, the nation's leading manufacturer of custom footballs.
N.C. State hosts Louisiana Tech in its final non-conference tilt at 6 p.m. Saturday on an ACC Network broadcast.
The other National Team of the Week nominees for the weekend of Sept. 25 are:
Arkansas (4-0): The Razorbacks moved to 4-0 on the season for the first time since 2012 with a 20-10 win over No. 7 Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas. The Hogs beat their longtime rival for the first time since A&M joined the SEC in 2012 thanks in part to three sacks and nine tackles for loss. Arkansas was the Cheez-It National Team of the Week for the weekend of Sept. 11 following its win over then-No. 15 Texas.
Bowling Green (2-2): The Falcons shocked Minnesota on the road, 14-10, ending the Gophers' 21-game non-conference win streak that was the longest in the nation. Two Falcon interceptions in the fourth quarter sealed it as Bowling Green held Minnesota to 241 total yards.
Oregon State (3-1): B.J. Baylor ran for 158 yards and Chance Nolan threw four touchdown passes as the Beavers won their Pac-12 Conference opener for the first time since 2013 and beat USC at the Coliseum for the first time since 1960, 45-27. The 45 points are the most Oregon State has scored in the series.
UTSA (4-0): The Roadrunners scored a second big road win this season with a 31-28 takedown of Memphis as Hunter Duplessis kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired to complete a 21-point comeback. Sincere McCormick piled up 217 all-purpose yards, helping end Memphis' 17-game home win streak. UTSA is 4-0 for the first time since 2012.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America
consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives
in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday
operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team.
For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive
Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Cheez-It Bowl
The Cheez-It Bowl takes place on
Wednesday, Dec. 29 at 5:45 p.m. ET in Orlando, Fla. The postseason contest is hosted
by Florida Citrus Sports, a Central Florida-based nonprofit, and annually features
top teams from the Atlantic Coast and Big 12 Conferences. Cheez-It, the best-selling
cracker brand in the United States, signed on as the game's title sponsor in 2020
as part of its season-long support of college football. Last bowl season, No. 21
Oklahoma State beat No. 18 Miami 37-34 in front of an audience of Cheez-It "Wheel
Live Fans." This year's Cheez-It Bowl will be the 32nd edition of the game and its
21st in Orlando.