RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- One by one, North Carolina State has taken care of some things it hasn't done since Philip Rivers was under center.
Now the No. 23 Wolfpack are turning their attention toward the one opponent that has dominated them since then: Clemson.
N.C. State has lost six straight in the series against the Tigers since Rivers beat them in 2003 -- the Wolfpack's longest active losing streak against any Atlantic Coast Conference team. They've defeated every other ACC team at least once since then.
"I think they maybe just had our number for a little bit, but we're looking to change that," tight end George Bryan said Monday. "Just to beat Clemson would be a great thing, and it would definitely be a change, and maybe we could keep that going for the years to come."
Of course, it's way too early for N.C. State to think about flipping the rivalry like that. At least for now, the Wolfpack (6-2, 3-1) would settle for just one victory against the Tigers (4-4, 2-3) -- because a win would keep them in control of the Atlantic Division. N.C. State took charge in the divisional race last week by knocking off Florida State in dramatic fashion.
"There's a lot on the line, and this is a big football game," coach Tom O'Brien said. "Certainly, each and every week, they get bigger, but that's the exciting thing. It's neat to be in this situation and be playing for the things we're playing for right now."
This has already been a memorable season for the Wolfpack, whose 4-0 start was their best since Rivers was a junior in 2002 and pushed them into the Top 25 for the first time since his senior season. Now, after a few weeks out of the polls, they're ranked again -- just in time to try for their first win against the Tigers since '03.
Clemson has won each of its three meetings against O'Brien-coached N.C. State teams by an average of 20 points.
"They still have pretty good backs down there," O'Brien said. "They've got a lot of talent. They're a big, powerful football team, and a lot of the guys we played last year are still playing."
Except one important one: C.J. Spiller.
The explosive all-purpose threat now with the Buffalo Bills was a one-man wrecking crew through the years against the Wolfpack. In four meetings against them, he averaged 106 1/2 yards rushing and accounted for eight touchdowns -- including last year's do-it-all show in which he rushed for a score, caught another one and threw a TD pass in a 43-23 rout.
One of the challenges faced by Dabo Swinney has been finding a way to make up for Spiller's lost production. He'll be without one of his top weapons -- leading rusher Andre Ellington, who injured a toe in last week's loss to Boston College and will miss at least two games.
That probably will mean an increased workload for Jamie Harper, who's more of a physical runner than the quicker Ellington, but there might not be a change in the way the guys up front will play, N.C. State defensive end David Akinniyi said.
"Clemson's more of the type of offensive line that will just try to maul you, run the ball down your throat," Akinniyi said. "I think it's probably going to be one of the most physical games we've been in so far."
This marks the first game of a challenging late-season schedule for the Wolfpack, who will play three November games on the road for the first time since 1973. They return home next week to face struggling Wake Forest, then wrap up the season at rival North Carolina and at Maryland in a game that could decide who will represent the division in the ACC title game in Charlotte.
"Every 37 years, we go on the road three times in November," O'Brien deadpanned. "We just caught the wrong year."
Top 25 Overview
North Carolina State is flying high after defeating FSU last week but now faces a foe it hasn't beaten in six straight contests: Clemson. That's the Wolfpack's longest active losing streak against any ACC team. The Tigers look to bounce back after a turnover-filled loss to Boston College. Clemson has won each of its three meetings against Tom O'Brien-coached NC State teams by an average of 20 points.