The much-injured Florida State Seminoles had yet to play a complete game on the season. Things turned around Saturday against Duke, as the 'Noles won 41-16, with a solid effort from both the offense and the defense. The performance could well be described as "clean," as FSU had few penalties or mental errors.
FSU never trailed in the game and starter E.J. Manuel tossed three passes of more than 50 yards in the first half, and the 'Noles took a 24-3 lead into halftime. FSU posted a tremendous 8.2 yards/play and looked like a different offense with its quarterback back in the fold. The 'Noles rushed for 242 yards, including 109 from freshman Devonta Freeman on 19 carries.
The defense was dominant in building the lead, did not allow a drive of more than 50 yards, notched 5 sacks, forced two turnovers, stopped 12 of 17 third downs, and allowed only 3.8 yards/play before garbage time set in.
The third quarter was a frustrating period for the Seminoles, as Duke recovered its first of 3 onside kicks. Florida State held and marched down the field on a 9-play, 52-yard TD drive that featured true freshmen on 8 of 9 plays. After that, however, Duke changed it up and had some answers for FSU's attacking defense and man coverage. After another defensive stop, Greg Dent fumbled after securing a high pass from Manuel. The call was initially ruled an incomplete, but was overturned on replay. Duke would answer with a TD, thanks in large part to the favorable field position.
Duke would again onside kick and recover, taking the ball at Florida States 45 yard line and scoring on a drive which featured two converted fourth downs. FSU then recovered Duke's onside kick (third consecutive) and cruised 39 yards in five plays for the touchdown to go up 41-16 with less than 10 minutes to play in the game.
Due to the onside kicks and the conversions, FSU ran only 24 plays in the second half and threw on only 3 of those.
Florida State lost junior defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel for the season with a dislocated ankle. That makes at least five FSU starters lost for the year, and countless others remain injured.
Up next: Maryland