No. 2 Florida State took another step towards a spot in the national championship with a 59-3 drubbing of an overmatched Syracuse squad on Saturday afternoon.
Freshman Jameis Winston was a tidy 19-of-21 for 277 yards and two touchdowns in one half of football. The Seminoles tallied 225 yards on the ground, and Syracuse managed just 247 yards of total offense in a game that was never in doubt.
Florida State is the first ACC team ever to score at least 40 points in 10 straight games.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 16, 2013
It took FSU just 2 1/2 minutes to grab the lead, as Winston completed his first five throws of the game before James Wilder Jr., capped off the 77-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
The Seminoles would go on to score easily on their next five drives, with none of them lasting over three minutes. The quickest lasted just 13 seconds, as explosive athlete Kermit Whitfield broke one for 74 yards to double the early lead:
Devonta Freeman got into the rushing touchdown act before Winston added two passing throws of his own. And Robert Aguayo added a booming 53-yard field goal, putting the Seminoles up 38-0 before halftime.
Ho-hum, just another regular half of football for the Seminoles, via ESPN Stats & Info:
This is the 3rd time in their last 4 games that Florida State is up 38-0 or better at halftime (also vs NC State & Wake Forest). #CUSEvsFSU— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 16, 2013
Granted, those aren't the most formidable opponents, but when you outgain a team 374-68 in one half in such a dominant, comprehensive fashion, it's impressive—no matter who is on the other sideline.
Syracuse isn't some DIII cupcake, either. The Orange entered with a 5-4 record and three wins in the ACC.
If they played on a neutral field next week, who would win?
But Florida State is an unstoppable wrecking ball right now, intent on adding style points for its BCS resume, and Scott Shafer's squad unfortunately got in the way on Saturday.
The second half was mostly a victory lap with Sean Maguire replacing Winston under center, but the Seminoles added another rushing, throwing and defensive touchdown in the third quarter for good measure, pushing the lead to 59-0.
Ryan Norton got Syracuse on the board with a field goal in the final period, but the comeback came up just short.
Jameis Winston, Florida State: A
He threw two incompletions and took three sacks. What a bum.
In all seriousness, Winston was unstoppable on Saturday, needing only one half to rack up nearly 300 yards (on a silly 13.2 yards per attempt) and two scores. His receivers did a good job getting open, but he was precise and on time with his throws.
This touchdown throw, in particular, was a gem:
His other touchdown wasn't exactly terrible, either, as he fired it perfectly into extremely tight coverage.
Winston's entered the game as the front-runner for the Heisman on many pundits' ballots, and he didn't do anything to suggest that should change.
Terrel Hunt, Syracuse: C
It was an admirable effort from Hunt, as he completed 10-of-18 throws for 75 yards and made a couple of plays with legs.
But there just wasn't time to do anything, as Florida State brought swarms of pressure in the backfield and had his receivers locked up.
Florida State Defense: A
You could single out anyone here. Sean Maguire played well in relief, the running game was clicking on all cylinders and even the special teams, albeit lightly used, looked good.
But let's give the defense some credit.
The Seminoles dominated Syracuse in the trenches, blitzed at the right times and didn't allow the Orange to move the ball.
When it was all said and done, Syracuse had converted just 6-of-18 third downs, tallied just 17 first downs on 12 drives and had 247 total yards. Moreover, the Seminoles forced two turnovers, one of which was forced and returned by Chris Casher for the touchdown:
This performance from the Seminoles was about as comprehensive as it gets.
Florida State will look to continue its momentum next week at home against Idaho (sorry, Idaho), while Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome to host Pittsburgh.