It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Florida State lost 11 players to the NFL draft. Clemson returned its dynamic quarterback and receiver duo.
Florida State had to replace seven coaches. Clemson returned its entire staff, including super offensive coordinator Chad Morris. And the Tigers were in their second year under new defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who had Clemson's defense playing much better.
The Tigers had beaten Georgia, and were hosting Florida State in Death Valley -- a place where the Seminoles had not won since 2001.
And Florida State was bringing in a red-shirt freshman quarterback into perhaps the loudest venue in college football.
By the half, Death Valley was Dead Valley.
Senior Lamarcus Joyner had an incredible night, and it started early, as he forced a fumble from Clemson tight end Seckinger. Florida State scored a few plays later, with a great throw and catch to red-shirt sophomore receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the early touchdown lead lead.
FSU forced a quick punt, and then went on a methodical march of 77 yards on 16 plays, ending in a field goal for a 10-0 lead. The drive took 7:39 off the clock, and with it, the life out of the stadium.
What followed next was the major turning point in the game. Florida State brought Lamarcus Joyner on a slot blitz. The senior's incredible speed did to Boyd what it had done to other quarterbacks this year -- it surprised him. So fast from his slot position did Joyner come that Boyd saw him far too late. Joyner sacked him, causing a fumble, which was promptly (or perhaps not so promptly) returned 37 yards for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead.
Florida State had crashed Clemson's party.
Clemson did not give up, driving 65 yards on 11 plays for the touchdown, but it was but a momentary bump in the road for a night that was otherwise smooth sailing for the Seminoles, considering the hostile environment.
FSU battled tough field position for much of the end of the first quarter and the early second quarter, but it finally broke out of the rut, thanks to some excellent plays by Jameis Winston, and one great individual play by junior receiver Rashad Greene. Greene caught a bench route for a first down, and then slipped and raced 72 yards for the score and a 24-7 lead.
Florida State picked off Tajh Boyd with a few minuted remaining in the half, and marched for a field goal and a 27-7 lead. It was a miscommunication between Boyd and his receivers, and Lamarcus Joyner was there to pick off the pass.
Clemson's receivers were targeted early and often by Florida State. With the loss of several key players from the 2012 team, Clemson's receivers were high on talent, but with the exception of Sammy Watkins, short on experience.
Florida State brought at least five corner blitzes in the first half, and Clemson handled them poorly, particularly the receivers, who did not properly adjust and get to their spots. Boyd was repeatedly harassed, and Clemson's offense repeatedly sputtered.
FSU outgained Clemson 312 to 141 in the first half. On a per-play basis, it was 7.6 to 3.6. The turnover advantage was three-one in favor of Florida State.
But it didn't stop there. Coming out of the half, FSU was even more dominant, starting with a score on a 42-yard, 6-play drive. It then forced a Clemson punt, punted itself, and then intercepted Tajh Boyd on a horrible, frustrated throw over the middle.
FSU followed with a 66-yard, 8-play drive, capped off by a touchdown run by Jameis Winston on third down.
FSU then forced another punt, and marched 57 yards on seven plays for yet another score and a 48-7 lead.
Florida State, after a goal line stand, was in danger of a safety. Throwing from his own end zone, Winston hit Nick O'Leary for a 94 yard pass play. After three stuffed runs, Aguayo would hit a FG, breaking the 50 point barrier.
With time winding down, Clemson would go on to score a touchdown with the backup QB. Final, 51-14.
The 51 points scored by the 'Noles are the most by an opponent ever in Death Valley.