Instant analysis: Clemson 26, NC State 14

NC State has defeated one ranked team every year since 2005. No. 3 Clemson made sure the Tigers weren’t this year’s victim of the Raleigh curse. Here’s a quick look back at Clemson’s win over NC State:

It was over when: Bryan Underwood’s would-be 83-yard touchdown run was called back in the third quarter. Officials ruled he stepped out of bounds at the 47-yard line, quarterback Pete Thomas was sacked and fumbled three plays later, and Clemson recovered it and scored on the following possession. In a tight game, it was that turn of events that shifted the momentum and gave the Tigers a 20-7 lead NC State could never recover from.

Game ball goes to: Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley. He's the one who sacked Thomas on third-and-10 for a loss of 6 yards in the third quarter. He finished with three sacks, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and five total tackles.

Stat of the game: NC State was just 3-of-16 on third downs. The Pack offense got some big plays and averaged almost 6 yards per play, but they hurt themselves with nine penalties and a turnover. The last third-down conversion for the Pack? A touchdown by Thomas with 3:50 left in the game.

What Clemson learned: It’s not invincible. If the No. 3-ranked Tigers want to stay undefeated and in the hunt for the national title -- aka beat Florida State -- they have to play better offensively. Clemson was pushed around up front by the Wolfpack’s defensive line, and quarterback Tajh Boyd wasn’t always accurate in his throws. Let's not forget the defense, which allowed a 23-play drive in the fourth quarter.

What NC State learned: It can hang with the big boys. First-year coach Dave Doeren made a statement that he has no intentions of being an afterthought in the Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack was well-prepared, well-coached and put in position to succeed. Expect more of it under Doeren, especially as he brings in his own recruits. NC State's biggest problem wasn't Clemson -- it was itself, with nine penalties and a turnover.

What it means: The ACC still has a national title contender. For years, the ACC has been its own worst enemy, as Florida State and Clemson have been notorious for losing games they shouldn’t (See: vs. NC State 2012, 2011, 2010). This was the classic trap game for Clemson, but the Tigers avoided the upset, didn't "pull a Clemson" and, in the process, protected the ACC’s improved image -- and its hopes of producing an undefeated team.