TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Timmy Jernigan grabbed a pen and walked up to the dry-erase board in Florida State’s locker room. He wrote four numbers and sat down.
No motivational speeches. No talk of how to play with focus or intensity or to leave it all on the field. Nothing needed to be said.
Just four numbers and a dash: 17-16.
The score of NC State’s victory over Florida State last year.
“And we just sat and looked at it,” Jernigan said. “That’s all that needed to be said.”
For all of its success in 2013, Florida State needed to close the book on part of its past. The Seminoles were determined to send a message to NC State early. That there would be no chance for the Wolfpack to repeat history.
Jameis Winston threw for 292 yards and had three touchdowns and Devonta Freeman had two rushing scores as Florida State routed NC State 49-17 before 80,389 fans on Saturday afternoon at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Florida State’s first half was a dominating display, a throwback to the dynasty days on an afternoon in which the Seminoles honored legendary coach Bobby Bowden.
The Seminoles scored five touchdowns in the first quarter, tying a school record. Florida State also surpassed the 40-point mark for a seventh straight game, also tying a school record.
The Florida State defense forced three turnovers and didn’t allow a point in the first half before taking the rest of the day off.
After what happened in Raleigh, N.C., last season, Florida State sent quite the message.
“It definitely felt good,” Florida State safety Terrence Brooks said. “I was very hurt last year by that game. We definitely were not going to let that happen again. That was definitely unacceptable.”
The Seminoles, No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, are now 7-0 going into next Saturday’s top-10 showdown with Miami at 8 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Hurricanes (7-0) came back to defeat Wake Forest 24-21 earlier in the day.
And in a rivalry with so many memories, next week’s game will give us this: the Florida State-Miami winner will be a national title contender along with Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State.
“That’s what I came here for — FSU-Miami, FSU-Florida — just the big games and the big-game atmosphere,” Winston said.
Winston has delivered in every game this season. He just narrowly missed out on his fifth 300-yard game, finishing 16 of 26 for 292 yards. And he now has 23 touchdown passes in seven games, matching EJ Manuel’s total from 14 games in 2012.
Bowden was asked before the game if he saw similarities between Winston and some of Florida State’s elite quarterbacks, specifically 1993 Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward.
“I don’t compare them,” Bowden said. “They weren’t alike. Charlie weighed 185, this guy weighs 225. Charlie was 6-foot, this guy is 6-foot-4. Now, what they do reminds me of each other, their accomplishments. This guy is seriously good.”
Bowden won a pair of national titles and finished in the top-4 of The Associated Press poll every season from 1987-2000. He won with top-flight quarterbacks and defenses that were stifling.
His dynasty teams of the 1990s look a lot like Jimbo Fisher’s 2013 team.
Maybe the poll voters will see 49-17 and think that Florida State could have put up more “style points.” Maybe the computers won’t be able to factor in that the Seminoles led 42-0 in the third quarter.
But Florida State was dominating in the first half. The second half doesn’t look good, but playing second- and third-teamers against NC State helps the younger Seminoles gain experience.
And it gives Florida State’s starters some extra rest going into the Miami game.
“We’re definitely going to be ready for them and we’re going to prepare well,” Brooks said. “I can’t wait. It’s going to be a big stage and that’s what we all want.”