If anyone doubted the credentials the Florida State Seminoles carry with them into the final part of the season, comes their second win over a top 10 team in the ACC, making it through quite comfortable even with a slow start by Jameis Winston, getting a strong performance from Devonta Feeman and James Wilder Jr. to make up for his shaky throwing early on.
The rivalry between the Seminoles and Miami has been one sided for quite some time, and the trend didn’t change as Florida State won 41-14, making it four consecutive wins against the Hurricanes, and a 4-0 for Jimbo Fisher against them. It was the first time both teams were in the top 10 heading into the game since 2004, but it was quite clear who belonged there and who didn’t.
Jameis Winston ruled right off the bat in that defining win over Clemson, but he threw two interceptions against Miami in the first half. Luckily for him, Devonta Freeman was playing with a chip on his shoulder. The Miami native remembers not being recruited until his senior year of high school by Miami, and wanted to prove once more that they made a huge mistake.
Winston did pick up his throwing in the second half, finishing the game with 21-of-29 for 325 yards, a touchdown and two picks, but most of the focus for both sides went to the ground game. However, for Miami that focus was a negative one, losing Duke Johnson for the game and the rest of the season. A running back that’s responsible for 58% of Miami’s rushing yards, and is ranked among the top 15 in the nation when it comes to most defining statistical categories.
But it was the running from Freeman, who scored the game’s opening touchdown and finished with two scores and 78 yards that kept the Seminoles slightly ahead in the first half before Winston found his bearings. He completed all three of his passes thrown 15 yards or longer as Florida State scored touchdowns on its first two drives of the second half, and his completion ratio on such throws is the highest among BCS AQ quarterbacks this season at 63.2%. He is also fantastic against the pass rush, completing 9-of-11 passes against five pass rushers or more, and is 19-of-25 for 416 yards against the blitz in the Clemson and Miami games combined.
The Seminoles have been very successful scoring early this season: Freeman scored on the opening drive, making it four consecutive games with a TD on their opening drive, compared to none during their first four games of the season. Overall, it leads to the Seminoles being 8-0 for the first time since 1999, the season in which they won the AP national title, finishing the season at 12-0.
It’s a team that is understanding how to compete in big games and is learning to do it different ways. We were very excited early and had to keep our emotions in check. The second half we came out and were very physical and were able to run the football and take control. The defense was dominant. I’m just proud of the way our guys competed.