3 takeaways from Florida State's blowout of Wake Forest
WINSTON-SALEM, NC — The 1st College Football Playoff rankings will be announced on Tuesday.
If there was any doubt in the minds of the committee members about No. 4 Florida State’s credentials as one of the 4 best teams in the country right now, the Seminoles put them to rest on Saturday.
They extended their streak of scoring 30 or more points to 14 straight by halftime and cruised the rest of the way to a 41-16 rout of Wake Forest at Allegacy Stadium.
Jordan Travis threw for 359 yards and 3 touchdowns, Trey Benson accounted for 155 all-purpose yards and a pair of scores and Keon Coleman caught 2 touchdown passes as the Seminoles dominated the Deacons on the way to their 7th straight win this season and 12th in a row dating back to last year.
Here are 3 takeaways from the victory that should keep FSU safely inside the top 4:
Third quarter lull
The Seminoles continue to have trouble maintaining their focus and intensity for a full 60 minutes. This time, their trademark lull came in the 3rd quarter, a period they’d dominated by outscoring their opponents 72-27 before Saturday.
After a dominating 1st half in which they outscored the Deacons 34-7 and outgained them 351-75, they took their foot off the accelerator coming out of halftime. Wake turned the tables by outgaining FSU 60-16 in the 3rd, putting a field goal and a touchdown on the board to narrow its deficit to 34-7. Both scoring drives were aided by horse collar penalties on the Seminoles’ defense. FSU’s Ryan Fitzgerald also missed his 1st field goal attempt of the season in the period.
Apparently the start of the 4th quarter was the wakeup call the Seminoles needed. Travis hit Jaheim Bell for a 13-yard gain on 3rd-and-2 to begin the period, then hit tight end Kyle Morlock for a 32-yard gain before Trey Benson scored on an 18-yard touchdown run to get FSU to the 40-point mark.
Chapter and Verse
The only nervous moment for the Seminoles in an otherwise routine win came with 3 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter when star pass rusher Jared Verse remained down on the field after contributing on a tackle of Wake running back Demond Claiborne.
He was attended to by medical personnel and walked off the field on his own before being escorted to the locker room with a trainer holding his helmet.
Whatever his issue was, it didn’t turn out to be serious. Verse came jogging back to the sideline, with his helmet on, midway through the 2nd quarter. He recorded his 1st sack of the day shortly thereafter, then got a 2nd before halftime in helping FSU pull away for a 34-7 lead at the break.
Wake’s quarterback shuffle
Santino Marucci’s run as the Deacons’ starting quarterback lasted all of 1 game. The hero of last week’s miracle come-from-behind victory against Pittsburgh returned to the bench Saturday in favor of healthy regular starter Mitch Griffis.
Against an FSU defense that ranks 2nd in the ACC in both scoring and yardage allowed, it probably wouldn’t have mattered who played quarterback for Wake.
It took until the 2nd play of the 2nd quarter for Griffis to complete his 1st pass. He was just 1-of-8 for 19 yards of a 1st half in which Wake gained only 75 yards – 51 of which came on 1 run by Justice Ellison.
Griffis’ final line was 6-of-16 for 82 yards. As a team, the Deacons were held to a season-low 210 yards, the 3rd time in the past 4 games they’ve been held to fewer than 300 yards.