Clemson avoids NC State's upset bid behind Deshaun Watson big day

RALEIGH, N.C. -- For the first time this season, Clemson took its share of early punches by an upset-minded NC State. But for every blow the Wolfpack landed, the Tigers had an answer.

Deshaun Watson threw for 383 yards and accounted for six touchdowns as Clemson ran its record to 8-0 with a 56-41 win over NC State. The Wolfpack led three different times in the first half, but each time Clemson responded with a touchdown drive of its own -- twice within 90 seconds. The Tigers now host Florida State (7-1) in Death Valley next week with the ACC Atlantic title hanging in the balance.

What the win means for Clemson: Fresh off a blowout win in Miami, Clemson probably wasn't expecting such a tight battle, but the resilience of the Tigers' offense was impressive, serving as a good reminder Clemson can win in a shootout. The concern -- particularly with Florida State up next -- is that the defense and special teams both appeared suspect. Clemson had the nation's longest streak of giving up 30 points or fewer snapped, and Nyheim Hines was able to break several long runs in the return game, including a 100-yard touchdown.

What the loss means for NC State: This may be better answered next week. NC State played with a ton of heart, fighting back time and again on Saturday. The question is whether the same will happen next week. The Wolfpack nearly pulled the upset over top-ranked Florida State at home last year, but they blew a big lead. A week later, the wind was out of their sails, and they dropped three straight. Dave Doeren can't allow his team to feel a hangover after this one, particularly with a stout BC defense on the horizon.

Player of the game: Watson, of course. Clemson's star QB has been red hot in his last four games, completing 72 percent of his throws and accounting for 14 touchdowns. Saturday's win over NC State was another highlight, particularly on the deep ball. He completed a bevy of long passes, including touchdown throws to Hunter Renfrow, Charone Peake and Deon Cain for touchdowns.

Best play: Watson's deep ball was cause for concern early in the year, but he was on point when throwing downfield Saturday. He had his share of highlight reel throws, but none looked better than the laser to Deon Cain for a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter.