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November 17, 2012

Rapid Reaction: FSU 41 Maryland 14

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Florida State has officially clinched the Atlantic Division of the ACC and now await their opponent to be decided for the championship game in Charlotte the first week of December.

This was the kind of road game Seminoles fans have waited for all season. The offense looked potent, controlled the line of scrimmage and aside from a couple small miscues, rolled over Maryland all afternoon.

Headed into next week's game against UF, this was exactly the kind of game Florida State needed to churn out.

EJ Manuel finished his day on the sideline after going 17-23 for 144 yards and a couple touchdowns. His lone error on the day came on an overthrown interception that didn't end up costing Florida State anything.

Manuel lead the Seminole offense up and down the field all afternoon though and helped the offense to its best road performance of the season.

The other offensive standout was Devonta Freeman. This is the Freeman I expected to see this season before Chris Thompson emerged. He was physical, showed great balance and wore down a very good Maryland defense to the tune of 148 yards and two scores on 16 carries.

Florida State finished the game with well over 200 yards on the ground, good news just one week removed from the team's worst rushing performance of the season at Virginia Tech. James Wilder took the workload down the stretch and hammered away at the Terps defense through the fourth quarter. He added a very impressive touchdown of his own on a second-effort play in the 4th.

Defensively, the Seminoles gave up just one score on the Terps opening drive of the second half and then a dumb touchdown in the waning seconds once the reserves were in. It was a solid drive by Maryland, but was also all that the Terrapins could muster against the Seminole starters on the day.

Overall, FSU was the better team on Saturday and it showed in all phases of the game. Tank Carradine recorded a couple more sacks and recovered a fumble, Bjoern Werner was his normal disruptive self and the secondary had little trouble shutting down the Maryland passing attack.

Dustin Hopkins also broke the NCAA all-time scoring record for kickers. He finished the day with 447 points. Travis Prentice, the former Miami-Ohio running back holds the all-time record for any position with 468 points. Hopkins has three games to break that mark.

Now Florida State turns its attention to UF, who visits next weekend in the regular season finale. A win over a one-loss UF team could give the 'Noles a late BCS boost, but don't count on too much...

I'll be back with more coverage later today...

Halftime: FSU 27 Maryland 0

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So far this is the road game Florida State has yet to turn in this season. As usual the defense is swarming and not allowing Maryland anything offensively and the Seminole offense actually showed up for this one (at least in the first half).

After a good opening return from Karlos Williams the Seminoles drove 62 yards– mostly on the legs of Devonta Freeman– and scored an opening touchdown to set the early tempo. On the ensuing kickoff Chad Abrams knocked the ball out on a big hit and Toshmon Stevens hopped on it. EJ Manuel connected with Nick O'Leary for a touchdown on the very next play.

It was 14-0 before Maryland even touched the ball.

The defense has been dominant ever since, sacking Sean Petty three times, forcing a fumble and limiting the Terps to 36 total yards and no points. Both ends have a sack and Carradine hopped on the fumble too.

The Seminoles stalled out on a couple of drives in the middle of the first half down in Terrapin territory, but a couple of field goals (and a few extra points) have given Dustin Hopkins enough to become the NCAA all-time points leader for kickers. He now has 446. 

The Seminoles capped the first half with another touchdown drive, draining clock and culminating in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Rashad Greene. Anyone who questions Manuel's toughness, he got drilled on the TD pass but still delivered it. 

Something to watch in the second half, Manuel got up a bit gimpy on that last drive. Personally, I'd pull him given the lead and the tempo of the game.

All in all, very strong first half for Florida State. EJ Manuel looks efficient, Devonta Freeman has been solid and as usual the defense is swarming. Things have just looked crisp today for the Seminoles. 

Statistical Leaders

Passing: EJ Manuel (14/18, 130, 2TD)

Rushing: Devonta Freeman (11-77, TD)

Receiving: Rashad Greene (4-50, TD)

Pregame: FSU at Maryland

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Florida State gets set to take on Maryland today in a game that should clinch the ACC Atlantic divison. As I've written all week, Florida State is a different team on the road this year.

That starts on offense where the Seminoles typically score 25 fewer points and gain about 200 less yards. Against Maryland's 16th ranked defense don't expect things to be easy for Florida State. But I do think that EJ Manuel will have a good game and FSU will break out of its road slump a little bit. 

Maryland's offense is not in good shape by the same token, they will have a linebacker starting at quarterback for them today and will need to rely on Seminole mistakes and turnovers to score. 

The Seminoles should be well rested for this game given that they last played nine days ago. The only real pitfall would be overlooking the Terps with UF coming in next weekend.

TV: ESPNU

Announcers: Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jon Congemi (color)


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