The civility between Florida State and Miami seemed like sportsmanship at its finest as the two rivals lined up for a pregame handshake at midfield of Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday.
Two and a half quarters later, officials scrambled to break up skirmishes and Miami defensive end Anthony Chickillo lay flat on his back with Florida State tackle Bobby Hart on top. So much for the friendly part of the rivalry.
As for the competition, that last about a half, too.
No. 3 Florida State rolled to a 41-14 victory against No. 7 Miami in another matchup of undefeated Atlantic Coast Conference rivals that turned into a Seminoles’ blowout.
Jameis Winston threw for 325 yards, but added two interceptions in the first half after throwing four in the first seven games. The Florida State defense picked up the slack and shut out the Hurricanes (7-1, 3-1) in the second half after it was 21-14 at the break.
The Seminoles (8-0, 6-0) went on a 20-0 run after the skirmish broke out midway through the third quarter. The two teams were called for offsetting personal fouls and James Wilder Jr. scored on a 5-yard run on the next play. The rout was on from that point, not much different from Florida State’s 51-14 win at Clemson last month.
”It’s a team that is understanding how to compete in big games and is learning to do it different ways,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. ”We were very excited early and had to keep our emotions in check.
”The second half we came out and were very physical and were able to run the football and take control. The defense was dominant. I’m just proud of the way our guys competed.
The Seminoles have defeated three Top 25 teams by a combined score of 155-28. Their national championship hopes are alive and well with rival Florida being the last real challenge in the regular season.
Devonta Freeman ran for 81 yards and two touchdowns for FSU against his hometown team while Miami running back Duke Johnson posted 97 yards on 23 carries, before leaving with a right leg injury.
Miami coach Al Golden declined to give details of the injury, but a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Johnson had a broken ankle and would miss the rest of the season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement was still to come.
Florida State safety Terrence Brooks left the game in the second half with a concussion and did not return.
Wilder Jr. had 42 yards rushing and two touchdowns in his first game back after being held out last week with a concussion.
Winston threw one touchdown and Miami’s Stephen Morris threw for 192 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Florida State outgained Miami 517-275.
”Just like baseball, sometimes you go out there and strike out,” said Winston, who also stars for the Seminoles baseball team. ”Then you’ve got to come back and bounce back and my team really helped me through it.
”I told the guys, `No more turnovers and we’re going to go out there and win this game.”
Miami could meet Florida State again if the two reach to the ACC title game.
”Let’s just learn from it,” Morris said. ”We have to leave this game in Tallahassee.”
The Seminoles opened the game with a 13-play, 72 yard drive that ended with Freeman’s 5-yard touchdown run.
The Miami offense responded with an impressive drive of its own that included 28 yards from Johnson on his first three carries. Coach Al Golden didn’t open with a slow, ball-control plan as many expected to keep the Florida State offense on the sideline. Miami went hurry-up with a heavy dose of Johnson to move to the FSU 27-yard line, but Matt Goudis missed a 44-yard field goal wide left.
The Miami defense forced two huge turnovers in the first half that kept Florida State from running away. Safety Deon Bush picked off a Winston overthrow intended for Greene. The Hurricanes scored five plays later on a 33-yard pass from Morris to Allen Hurns to tie the game at 7-7.
”We played the No. 7 team in the country and we won by 27,” Fisher said. ”That’s a very good football team. ”We’re just going to keep playing well and let people judge. This is a heck of a football team here.”
The Seminoles got their groove back on the ensuing possession and put together another drive capped by a Wilder Jr. 1-yard touchdown run to go up 14-7.
The game was on the verge of being a first-half blowout after Freeman took a screen pass 48 yards for a touchdown. Miami overloaded the right side of the Florida State line and came with a heavy blitz, but Fisher caught them with the perfect call: the screen to the left where there were more blockers than defenders.
The Seminoles went up 21-7 with 5:08 left in the second quarter and the Hurricanes promptly went three-and-out. Winston took the field ready to bury Miami under a 21-point lead, but Rayshawn Jenkins picked him off and gave the offense the ball near midfield. Morris found Hurns again with a 14-yard touchdown pass eight plays later to send the game into halftime with the Hurricanes up 21-14.
”Give them credit. They made all the plays. We did not,” Miami coach Al Golden said. ”It’s a high powered offense. They executed better than we did.”