CLEMSON, S.C. — Two of the nation’s top offenses. A pair of Heisman Trophy contenders. And two of the best defenses, too.
No. 5 Florida State made it look all too easy en route to a 51-14 victory, dominating No. 3 Clemson on offense and defense.
About the only thing that went wrong for Florida State (6-0) was a Jameis Winston interception in the second quarter. And it wasn’t even his fault.
The coaches had called for receiver Kenny Shaw to make a double move on a route near the goal line in the second quarter. Wide receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey gave the signal to Shaw, but quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders heard only the first part of the conversation.
His wireless headset had gone out. Winston’s pass was picked off.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher made sure that headset won’t fail again.
“We had to throw away the headset,” Fisher said.
And it was about the only blemish on a 444-yard, three-touchdown night for Winston.
Here are four observations about Florida State’s win on Saturday night:
1. Winston is near the top of almost everyone’s Heisman Trophy midseason list. As a freshman.
Beyond the interception, he did have his freshman moments on Saturday.
But it was also an impressive night for a redshirt freshman, going 22 of 34 at one of the loudest stadiums in the nation. And he devoured a defense that had allowed just 186 passing yards per game.
Winston now has 20 passing touchdowns, putting him just 12 shy of Chris Weinke’s school-record 32 from his Heisman season in 2000. That’s good company.
2. The defense is the class of the ACC and among the best in the nation.
Clemson senior quarterback Tajh Boyd completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes. At home. It was an abysmal night for Boyd, who threw for just 156 yards and was intercepted twice. Clemson (6-1) ran for 123 yards, but the Tigers averaged just 3 yards per carry.
Clemson had 326 offensive yards on Saturday — nearly 200 yards fewer than the Tigers’ season average.
Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner forced two fumbles and had an interception in the first quarter. Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. scooped up one of those fumbles and went 37 yards for a touchdown.
3. Devonta Freeman continues to push the Seminoles on the ground.
Freeman had 84 yards on 21 carries and added a fourth-quarter touchdown.
With James Wilder out in the first half with a concussion, Freeman picked up the majority of the carries, and he now has 469 yards through six games. It puts him very close to the pace needed to be a 1,000-yard rusher.
4. If Clemson couldn’t do it, Florida State won’t be pushed around on the road.
The Seminoles prepared for the crowd noise and were ready for it. There was really only one drive, with Florida State backed up on the goal line, that caused Winston and Co. any troubles.
Otherwise, Florida State pushed the offense up and down the field. The Seminoles scored on six of the final seven drives, never backing off the accelerator. After the game, Winston said he told players in the huddle that the Seminoles were fighting Clemson and not the crowd. That’s leadership from a 19-year-old.