This game was over at halftime, but cruelly -- at least for Syracuse -- it had to go another 30 minutes. And the Seminoles didn't really cut the Orange much slack in the second half either.
Despite holding the ball for over 22 minutes longer than Florida State did, Syracuse's offense couldn't manage anything against the Seminoles first team defense and had to scratch, claw and fight just to make a meticulous 19-play drive agaisnt FSU's reserves. Even then, it took all 19 plays (and over 10 minutes) to go 66 yards just for the field goal.
This one was all Florida State.
Jameis Winston did not play a single snap in the second half. His day finished 19/21 for 277 yards and two scores, he watched the third and fourth quarters from the sideline -- not far from Charlie Ward whom Winston passed for third all-time on FSU's single season passing TD list.
Sean Maguire came on and played with the first team for most of the third quarter, throwing his first career touchdown pass to Nick O'Leary in the process.
A little later Chris Casher added a touchdown after stripping the ball straight from Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt's hands. Then Dan Hicks hauled in his first career interception on the ensuing Syracuse possesion. It was 59-0 at the end of the third quarter when Syracuse was already six plays into its "death-by-1000-cuts," 10-minute field goal drive.
Offensively, FSU rolled up over 500 yards of total offense including 225 on the ground. FSU's first team offense was blowing the Syracuse defensive line off the ball almost all game and the Seminole backs had plenty of room to run. Levonte Whitfield set the tone for the ground game on his second career carry when he went 74 yards for the score to open FSU's second possession. James Wilder also added two touchdowns and moved up to 10th all-time at FSU in career rushing TD's, while Devonta Freeman scored one himself to move up to fifth.
Kenny Shaw lead the way for the receivers with seven receptions for 99 yards, Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Greene also caught touchdowns.
More than stats and numbers though, Syracuse just didn't look like they belonged on the same field as Florida State for most of this game. Whether it was Kelvin Benjamin going up over an a defensive back to haul in an absolutely unfair six-yard touchdown in the second quarter or any number of Seminole defenders laying wood to Syracuse ball-carriers, the difference in physicality and athleticism was impossible to miss.
Credit Jimbo Fisher and his staff -- once again -- for keeping the team focused. It would've been understandable is the Seminoles came out a little bit flat. Unfortunately for the Orange that couldn't have been further from what actually happened. The Seminoles played angry at times on Saturday. Not in an out-of-control or malicious sort of way, but that same edge that FSU has played with -- when at their best -- all season was on display through most of the afternoon on Saturday.
Those looking for Florida State to falter came away disappointed. This Seminoles team continues to prove time and time again that they are for real.
Before the game kicked off Florida State honored their 1993 National Championship team. It was the 20th anniversary of the school's first national title.
And with the way this year's team is playing, in 20 years they might be reuniting on Bobby Bowden field in much the same way.
Passing: Jameis Winston (19/21, 277, TD)
Rushing: Karlos Williams (4-78)
Receiving: Kenny Shaw (7-99)
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