TALLAHASSEE – Second-ranked Florida State completed its first perfect regular season in conference since 2000 on Saturday beating Syracuse 59-3. The Seminoles erupted for 28 first quarter points against a Syracuse team that had allowed just three combined points in its previous two games entering Saturday. Fast early starts and big first quarter leads have become all too common for Florida State as the Seminoles are wasting little time putting opponents away.
“I thought we came out very focused and again started fast,” said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Florida State freshman quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Jameis Winston, wasted little time putting to rest the concern of how a recent TMZ story of sexual assault allegations, from nearly a year ago, would affect Winston’s play on the field. Winston completed his first 11 passes and 19 of his 21 attempts for the day, leading touchdown drives on Florida State’s first five possessions.
“Once our offense gets in a groove, it’s hard to slow us down,” said Winston.
Winston did not throw his first of two touchdown passes until 40 seconds remained in the first quarter. He did however, have an outstanding block that sprung wide receiver Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield for a 74-yard touchdown run on the first play of the Seminoles’ second drive.
“Jameis came out ready to go,” said tight end Nick O’Leary, who set a new FSU single-season record for touchdown receptions by a tight end on Saturday. “When we’re rolling, nobody can stop us.”
James Wilder Jr.’s 3-yard touchdown run just over two and a half minutes into the contest marked the sixth straight game that Florida State has scored a touchdown on its opening drive. Devonta Freeman added a 4-yard touchdown run later in the quarter and now has a first quarter touchdown in four straight games. In 10 games this season, the Seminoles have scored on their initial offensive possession eight times — seven of which have ended in touchdowns.
“We had a great opening drive and were able to get a few plays early and take control of the game,” added Fisher.
Only once this season, in its home-opener against Nevada, has Florida State been held below 20 points in the first half. Florida State took a 38-0 lead into the break on Saturday and have now outscored its last two opponents 80-0 in the first half.
In fact, the Seminoles’ average halftime lead has been 23.8 points-per-game this year. Florida State has also broke the 40-point mark in every game and nearly did so for the third time in the first half on Saturday.
“Our guys are coming in ready and they’re prepared to do what they’ve got to do and hopefully they continue to execute,” said Fisher of Florida State’s hot starts. “You don’t win games in the first five minutes, but you can set the tone for ’em.”
Florida State has still yet to trail in the second half this season. With a terrific defense, a deep backfield, a Heisman caliber quarterback and a stellar offensive line, strong starts continue to be a formula for success for the Seminoles. To further illustrate Florida State’s early dominance, the Seminoles’ 283 first half points this season is more than 69 of the 123 FBS schools had for the entire year entering Saturday.