Devonta Freeman rushed for 78 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns Saturday night as third-ranked Florida State defeated the University of Miami 41-14 before a capacity crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. Freeman scored two touchdowns rushing and one on a screen pass.
James Wilder added two scores for FSU who improves to 8-0 and 6-0 in the conference. Miami slips to 7-1 and 3-1 in the ACC. The Hurricanes, however, still remain in first place in the ACC's Coastal Division. This matchup could have been just round one. If both teams win out as anticipated there could be a rematch in the ACC Title game in December in Charlotte.
Freeman, from Miami Central, had said all week that he was looking forward to having a big game against Miami due to the fact that former UM coach Randy Shannon did not recruit the former Miami-Dade football star to come to UM despite his close proximity to the program. When Al Golden finally made it to UM, it was too little, too late.
The odds makers expected a rout and that is exactly what they got in the second half. Miami was outgained 165-40 in the third quarter and starting quarterback Stephen Morris was intercepted twice, once in the third quarter and once in the fourth. Duke Johnson, who rushed for 97 yards in the first three quarters, left the game in a golf cart in the third quarter with an apparent ankle sprain. He will be evaluated when the team gets back to Miami Saturday evening.
Miami, facing a seven-point difference in the third quarter could not do anything on either of its two possessions. FSU meanwhile scored on both of their possessions in the quarter to blow the game open. Miami could not complete a third-down pass and could not move the ball against the Noles that made the correct adjustments to shut down a UM offense that had some success in the first half.
The Seminoles led at the half 21-14 behind Freeman's two scores. He got one on the ground and one on a 48-yard screen pass that he turned into a touchdown late in the second quarter.
Jameis Winston got the Seminoles on the march on their first drive of the game. The Noles took the opening kickoff 72 yards in 13 plays and scored when Freeman took it in from the six. Winston kept the drive alive with a 16-yard scamper down the middle of the field to give the Noles a big first down. Winston used dinks and dunks to move the Noles down the field and Freeman ran the ball successfully against a Hurricane defense that was trying to find its groove.
Morris led the Canes right back down the field on their first series of the game, but once again, inconsistent place kicker Matt Goudis missed badly on a 44-yard field goal attempt to leave the score 7-0 FSU. Johnson led the Canes down the field, but they could not convert on third down and the drive stalled on the 27 yard line.
After Winston threw his first pick of the game, this one to Deon Bush, Morris engineered a five-play drive that went for 66 yards as he connected with Hurns for their first score of the night and knotted the game at 7. Morris hit Hurns in stride with a 33-yard pass on an apparent go route that left the FSU cornerback looking for answers.
James WIlder, Jr. answered on the next drive for the Noles who moved 79 yards in eleven plays and consumed 7:01 of the clock. WIlder scored on a one-yard plunge. The drive was punctuated by a big pass and catch from Winston to Kelvin Benjamin that went for 35 yards and gave FSU a first and goal at the Miami nine.
FSU enlarged the lead to 21-7 when Freeman scored on the aforementioned 48-yard screen pass that left Miami's defenders gasping for air. Miami had a blitz on and Winston threw the ball to the left side of the field and Freeman and his blockers went into the end zone unchallenged.
The tide turned for Miami on FSU's next drive. WInston threw his second interception of the game, as Rayshawn Jenkins picked off the ball intended for Kenny Shaw with a few minutes to go in the half. Morris moved the Canes 58 yards in under two minutes and scored with :22 remaining in the half as he hit Hurns for their second score of the game in the corner of the end zone with a 14-yard strike. Miami trailed at the half 21-14. The deficit was FSU's smallest of the season.