The Duke Blue Devils have made life very difficult on the Florida State Seminoles early on in this one. FSU is up 17-0, but it hasn't been easy.
For the first time since 2012 -- when FSU hosted Florida -- the Seminoles didn't score a point in the first quarter.
FSU got close, Devonta Freeman was just feet from the goal-line on the second Florida State drive of the game, but after running for 22 yards the junior coughed it up at the three and Duke recovered.
The Blue Devils almost capitalized on the turnover too. Duke drove all the way down to the Seminole 30 -- converting a 3rd-and-16 at one point -- before a missed field goal caused the drive to go for naught. Had the Blue Devils scored it would have marked the first time the Seminoles have trailed in a game since late September (Boston College).
Duke has squandered three opportunities with the ball in FSU territory so far.
Florida State didn't get started on offense until the end of the first quarter when they managed to drive 64 yards in nine plays and Jameis Winston found Kelvin Benjamin in the endzone. Even then, it was not the typical Florida State offensive drive.
So far Jameis Winston has not looked Heisman-like. He's missed on several throws -- including a late 2nd quarter INT -- and has struggled with the different looks Duke is throwing at him.
Duke has held Florida State's offense in check for most of the first half. Anytime the Seminoles bring more than two receivers on the field they've dropped their safeties deep before the snap. Anytime FSU brings in a big set they load the box.
Credit David Cutcliffe for an excellent gameplan. The Blue Devils seem acutely aware of the Seminoles' tendencies and they are playing the odds well on almost every down.
But Jimbo Fisher had a few tricks up his sleeve too.
At the end of the first half, Fisher responded to Duke's guesswork with something they hadn't seen yet -- Florida State began to run an option set.
First Winston ran a read-option, then a traditional option where he cut back against the grain rather than pitch it. By the time FSU handed it to Karlos Williams for a 12-yard touchdown run, Duke was on its heels.
FSU hasn't run an option package all season. Credit Fisher for breaking tendency and whipping out a new wrinkle when the Seminoles needed it most.
The Seminoles also added a late score on a Robert Aguayo 45-yard field goal.
This game isn't over though. Not by a long shot.
Duke is scrappy, they tackle well and they believe that they belong in this game now after a very solid first half.
This one could come down to the fourth quarter. Or FSU could go on a run early in the third. It's still too early to tell.
Check back after the game for rapid reaction.
Passing: Jameis Winston (12/21 171, TD, INT)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (9-49)
Receiving: Kelvin Benjamin (3-41 TD)
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