With a 37-7 victory over Florida, Florida State has clinched a perfect regular season and is now one win away from playing for a BCS National Championship.
Heisman candidate Jameis Winston passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, he also got a lot of help from receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who caught each touchdown to go with his 212 receiving yards on the day. Meanwhile, the defense shut down the opposing offense, holding the Gators to only 193 total yards.
Things certainly were not easy for the No. 2 team in the country at the start of the game. On the Seminoles' first drive, the quarterback tried a deep pass and was picked off by Loucheiz Purifoy. At this point, the ACC Football Twitter account noted the challenges ahead for Winston:
Purifoy comes down with the INT for the Gators. As down as Florida is, that secondary is best Noles have played to date. #FSUvsUF— ESPN ACC (@ESPN_ACC) November 30, 2013
The defensive stalemate continued, as Florida State was only able to hold a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
However, the road team was able to break it open after a great catch and run by Benjamin for a 45-yard touchdown.
After forcing the Gators into a three-and-out, Winston led another scoring drive that ended with a 29-yard touchdown to a wide-open Benjamin:
This gave Winston a new school record for touchdown passes in a season, as noted by Corey Clark of the Tallahassee Democrat:
On that last throw, Jameis Winston broke Chris Weinke's FSU record for TD passes in a season. Now has 34.— Corey Clark/TDO.com (@Corey_Clark) November 30, 2013
Florida State took that 17-0 lead into halftime with a great deal of momentum that never went away.
A Skyler Mornhinweg fumble early in the second half led to another field goal for the Seminoles, which was quickly followed by a 11-yard rushing touchdown by Devonta Freeman to make the score 27-0, which stood through the end of the third quarter.
As Bryan Holt of Rivals.com notes, this was a dominant stretch for Florida State:
That's Florida's first first down since FSU's 96-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter. Had been outgained 289-5 since.— Bryan Holt (@Bryan_Holt) November 30, 2013
Florida was finally able to move the football late in the second half and got onto the scoreboard with a short touchdown pass from Mornhinweg to Hunter Joyer.
The score capped a 14-play, 83-yard drive that cut the lead to 27-7. However, Florida State came right back with a touchdown by Benjamin to extend the lead to 34-7. A late field goal made the game 37-7, which ended up being the final score.
This win moves the Seminoles to 12-0 on the season as they continue to fight for a national championship. After beating opponents by an average of 43.8 points per game this year, they posted yet another rout on the road against a rival.
Meanwhile, the Gators end their year with a disappointing 4-8 record after dealing with various injuries throughout the year.
Head coach Will Muschamp can now look forward to 2014 and hope to have better luck next season.
Jameis Winston, Florida State: A-
While Winston has been the best quarterback in the nation throughout the season, he was in for his toughest test of the year on Saturday. Not only was he dealing with outside distractions, but Florida has one of the best secondaries in the country.
While he did struggle early with an interception, Winston came back with some excellent throws to move the football and lead the offense to yet another big performance. For a young player in a hostile environment, it was quite impressive.
With just another week remaining before the Heisman ceremony, there are few better options in the country.
Which is the best team in the country?
Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State: A+
While Winston is the superstar of the team, Kelvin Benjamin was the best player on the field on Saturday. He got the scoring going with an incredible individual effort to force his way into the end zone, and that was just the beginning.
The sophomore receiver finished with nine catches for 212 yards and three touchdowns while showing that he is one of the best playmakers in the country. Even with a few drops, he was still quite impressive in the win.
At 6'5" with a great deal of speed, Benjamin clearly has a great future ahead of him.
Skyler Mornhinweg, Florida: B
Not a lot was expected out of Mornhinweg to start the game. The freshman was appearing in only his third career game and was facing the No. 2 scoring defense in college football.
Still, he managed to go 19-of-24 for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Although he will not necessarily go into next season as the starting quarterback, he certainly displayed a lot of poise against a good opponent.
Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida: B+
Even in a losing effort, Loucheiz Purifoy stood out for the Gators. He had an interception early, but he also made big plays on special teams both as a returner and as a gunner.
Although he was beaten on a few big plays, he still has a lot of skill, which will soon be seen on Sundays.
With its seventh loss in a row, Florida will officially end its season at 4-8 with no postseason. Of course, Florida State has a much different future as it will compete in the ACC Championship Game next week, with its opponent still to be decided.
A win in that contest will almost certainly put the squad into the BCS National Championship Game with a chance to win the school's first title since the 1999 season.
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