CLEMSON — The last time the Clemson Tigers made the trek to Raleigh to take on the N.C. State Wolfpack, they narrowly escaped with a 56-41 victory on Halloween night in 2015.
Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from former quarterback Deshaun Watson and finished the game as the Tigers’ leading receiver — catching four passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.
With good memories in tow for the junior wide receiver, there is a reason that Renfrow is looking forward to a return trip to Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday (3:30 p.m., ABC).
"What I've said to a lot of the younger guys, it's one of the best environments that I've played in personally,” Renfrow said. “For me, I think it was one of the best environments I've been in … so I'm excited about playing there."
The Tigers rebounded last Saturday after suffering their first loss of the season Oct. 13 at Syracuse, defeating Georgia Tech 24-10.
In the game, the Tigers jumped on the Yellow Jackets early — needing only two plays before scoring their first touchdown of the night when quarterback Kelly Bryant found Deon Cain on a hitch route on a rainy night in Death Valley.
Those first two passes signaled to those watching that the Tigers were done playing slow.
"I think that was important to kind of set the tone of the game,” Renfrow said. “I don't want to say it had all the ingredients for an upset, but you had a lot of rain, we're a passing offense - -we've been a passing offense, I guess we're more balanced now. But it was good to get that spark from Deon and those first two (passes) right out of the gate - -throwing it in the rain and knowing that we're going to attack the whole game was good for the offense, as well as the defense knowing that we're not going to play passive."
After getting the taste of losing out of their collective mouths, the Tigers, who entered the College Football Playoff rankings this week at No. 4, turn their eyes to an N.C. State team that admittedly has been in the back of their minds.
“We've seen how they've played over the course of the season and it's something that we've kind of seen in the future,” Renfrow said. “We focus on the game at hand, but we saw it coming and we're excited that it's here and we're ready to play our best game."
The Tigers will have to play their best game if they hope to get a victory Saturday.
With the media and both fan bases realizing the importance of the game -- not only for the for the ACC’s Atlantic Division title but also with playoff implications -- the keys for Renfrow and the rest of the Tigers are to not make the game bigger.
"Just keep things simple - -that's really the message,” Renfrow said. “Not to over-complicate things and just control what you can control, really. Make it internally an external factor. Just worry about being a better teammate, getting better every day and those little things. If you focus on those then you kind of drown out the stuff around you.
"I think it's important that we don't feel like we have to win the rest of our games. I think if you do that, it kind of gets too much and you start thinking about next week. I think it's important that we just focus on the game at hand. We're trying to be 1-0 this week. It doesn't matter about Florida State, Citadel -- if we don't take care of this week, it doesn't matter. So just a one-game season and that's how I think we should take it."