RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With the offseason in the books, and the Wolfpack having done their job (posting a 4-0 record) we can be honest.

The non-conference slate for North Carolina State was all about preparing the Wolfpack for the ACC Slate — and, if we’re really being honest, their game against Clemson in Death Valley on Saturday.

“This determines what’s going to happen moving forward,” said Cory Smith of 247 Sports Pack Pride. “With Clemson beating Wake Forest this past weekend if Clemson wins this one, they’re in the driver’s seat the rest of the year as long as they take care of business. For NC State this is a chance to really have a seat at the table.”

In their double-overtime loss to Clemson, Wake Forest essentially gave N.C. State the blueprint for how to beat the Tigers. Attack their secondary.

The Tigers rank eight nationally in run defense allowing a stingy 78.5 rushing yards per game, so if N.C. State can hit those ‘dink and dunk’ plays and stretch the field a little bit they may be able to have some success.

“That Clemson defense, where they’re susceptible is being able to hit those big plays,” Smith said. “We really haven’t seen that throughout the first three games (for N.C. State). We saw that against UConnn are they able to transfer that over?”

Where the Deacons struggled against Clemson was getting stops. Tigers Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei averaged 15 yards per attempt on third down conversions at Wake Forest, the Tigers offense is tied for sixth nationally in third down conversions.

The Wolfpack’s defense happens to be good at stopping teams on third downs — tied for seventh nationally, good with teams only converting on third down against N.C. State 25 percent of the time. Getting teams off the field on third down is one of those all-the-time key points in any game, for State on Saturday it could very well be the determining factor.

“This team is able to get teams off the field with regular success,” Smith said. “If they’re able to do that against Clemson and take some of the crowd out too, especially with DJ Uiagalelei, the way that he’s played in the past against NC State – where they had success is not allowing them to sustain those long drives.”

No. 10 N.C. State is scheduled to play No. 5 Clemson Saturday at 7:30 P.M. at Clemson.