This game was essentially over at the end of the first quarter when Florida State was up 17-0, it was completely out of reach by the half when the Seminoles lead 31-7.
The rest of the game was dominated by Florida State as they battled their own lack of interest throughout much of the second half.
I feel like I've written this at least three or four times this season, but the final score of this game was not indicative of how it was played. While there were many things for Florida State to hang their hats on in the first half, the second half revealed a side of the Seminoles that has plagued them all season. For the first time at home, FSU came out complacent at home in the second half.
Now, it didn't hurt FSU tonight. I want to give a ton of respect to Duke for the season they've had, but the writing is on the wall. They just aren't a great football team.
Case in point, at one point at the end of the 3rd quarter, EJ Manuel was 6-14 and yet the Seminoles lead by 38 points. That's not something that David Cutcliffe and Duke will be happy about come Monday.
Florida State on several occasions tried to gift Duke momentum. Fumbles from EJ Manuel, Tyler Hunter, Rodney Smith and Devonta Freeman, all gave Duke the ball back with good field position. The fact Duke could only muster seven points says more about them than it does Florida State.
For the Seminoles' part, they should have paid for several of their mistakes. While I'm not sure they made enough to cost them a game against a better team, they also aren't going to learn from many of them because Duke couldn't make the Seminoles pay.
Mistakes can be useful at the end of a game. If a young guy makes a gaffe in garbage time its a great teachable moment. But when key players make the kinds of mistakes FSU made at the end of tonight's game, and they're not held accountable, it can be a troubling trend. I'm not sure Florida State learned enough of a lesson for any of their mistakes tonight.
One or two fumbles is one thing, but Florida State legitimately looked to have lost interest at points in the second half and their sloppy play more or less confirmed that. Against Duke, FSU can get away with that. Against a better team, that could cost the Seminoles another game.
Defensively the 'Noles were solid. With the exception of the 90-yard touchdown drive they surrendered in the second quarter, Duke failed to establish any momentum on offense. Duke QB Sean Renfree was beaten, battered and ultimately concussed before being replaced by Anthony Boone in the third quarter.
The Florida State run game was the bright spot on Saturday, despite some issues moving the ball in the air Florida State had no trouble moving it on the ground to the tune of 261 yards and 3 touchdowns. In their first game without Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman both scored and Duke had no answer for the FSU ground game most of the afternoon.
I'll be back up with more after I talk to players and coaches. I'm defnitely interested to hear what was going on today with EJ Manuel and the passing game. There never seemed to be any rhythm, but Florida State didn't seem to mind much today.
That will be a concern moving forward though...
Passing: EJ Manuel (8-16, 282, 2TD)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (12-104, 2TD)
Receiving: Rodney Smith (3-112)