In its second match-up of the season against a top 10 team on Saturday night, Florida State once again passed its test with flying colors as the Seminoles shut out Miami in the second half to take home a 41-14 victory, their fourth straight over Miami.
While freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has become the face of the program for the time being, the Seminoles have proven that they are far more than just a Heisman caliber quarterback. At 8-0 for the first time since 1999, Florida State has a very good case to make that it is the most complete team in the entire country.
As for Mr. Winston, he may have overcome his most individual adversity early on against the Hurricanes on Saturday. Winston threw two interceptions in the first half, something he had not done for an entire game in the seven previous contests entering Saturday. The second came with Florida State leading 21-7 and approaching midfield looking to cease control of the football game.
Instead of Florida State padding its lead, Winston was intercepted by Miami’s Rayshawn Jenkins with just over two minutes to play in the first half. Stephen Morris’ second touchdown pass to Allen Hurns had Miami within seven at the break, 21-14. The Hurricanes headed to the locker room confident and with both of their touchdowns coming off of Winston picks.
Winston not only regrouped in the second half to put two big turnovers behind him, but the sensational freshman was picked up by the rest of his team as well.
The FSU defense not only pitched a shutout in the second half, it held Miami to a mere 120 yards and forced a pair of Morris interceptions with both coming by underclassmen. Sophomore P.J. Williams picked off a long pass downfield while freshman Nate Andrews’ second interception of the season came just moments after starting safety Terrence Brooks left the game with a concussion.
Florida State was able to shut down the Miami offense without big nights from its best players on that side of the ball. While Brooks did have a sack, senior linebackers Telvin Smith and Christian Jones combined for just seven tackles, one for loss. Senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner was also unusually quiet and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan went without a tackle for loss.
Offensively, junior running back Devonta Freeman led Florida State with 176 yards from scrimmage and three total touchdowns including a screen pass that went 48 yards for a score. Freeman’s backfield mates, James Wilder Jr. and Karlos Williams, combined for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 14 carries.
Junior wide receiver Rashad Greene finished second behind only Freeman in receiving with 83 yards in the victory and is on pace to become the first Florida State player to finish with 1,000 yards receiving since Anquan Boldin in 2002. As a rusher, Freeman is set to become the first Seminole to run for more than 1,000 yards in 17 years.
Florida State’s offensive line and one of the Seminoles’ more unsung contingents this season, allowed just a single sack on Saturday night while asserting its will to the tune of 517 yards, the most allowed by Miami this season.
To further illustrate Florida State’s top-to-bottom talent, junior tight end Nick O’Leary is second nationally among tight ends with six touchdown receptions while freshman kicker Roberto Aguayo has yet to miss a kick and had already broke Dustin Hopkins’ school-record for consecutive kicks made. Aguayo has made all 12 of his field goal tries and all 53 extra points.
Although Jameis Winston is making a serious run at becoming the third Florida State quarterback and second freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy, Winston has an outstanding supporting cast on both sides of the ball and never was that more evident than on Saturday night. A 21-14 game at halftime became another rout for the Seminoles thanks to a big night from the FSU backfield, the offensive line and an outstanding Florida State defense.
While Winston has become a symbol of Florida State’s resurgence and one of the more talked about players in college football, the Seminoles are getting a complete effort week-in and week-out. Winston was able to overcome his first multiple turnover game of the season, which allowed Miami to hang around early, to put in his fifth 300-yard passing performance of the year. The rest of the Seminoles simply did their job to keep the march for a third national championship ongoing.
While Alabama and Oregon may still have the upper-hand on Florida State in the race for the BCS title game, the Seminoles can make a pretty convincing case. Florida State currently has more victories over ranked opponents and joins South Carolina as the only school to hand a pair of teams its only loss this season. Florida State’s three wins over ranked teams have come by an average of more than 42 points-per-game and the ‘Noles are doing it with offense, defense and special teams.