0

FSU dominates Wake Forest, goes to 9-0

Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) smiles on the bench during the fourth quarter of Saturday's game.

Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) smiles on the bench during the fourth quarter of Saturday's game.

With their path to Pasadena clear, the Florida State Seminoles took another step toward the BCS National Championship game on Saturday.

FSU's defense turned seven Wake Forest turnovers into 38 points and quarterback Jameis Winston threw two touchdowns in two-plus quarters of work as the No. 2 Seminoles cruised to a 59-3 victory over the Demon Deacons at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Florida State, 9-0 for the first time since its last national title season in 1999, is believed to have an inside track to a spot in the championship game after No. 3 Oregon's loss to No. 5 Stanford earlier this week.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, though, downplayed any talk of future aspirations after the game.

"Continue to play well and prepare to play well," he said. "That's all that matters. Then you put your head down and you wake up and if you're there (at the title game), you're there. But you can't worry about the coulda, shoulda, wouldas. Forget all that stuff."

The Seminoles also clinched their second straight ACC Atlantic division title on Saturday, their third in four seasons under Fisher.

Making his first start in place of the injured Terrence Brooks (concussion), FSU freshman defensive back Nate Andrews picked off two passes in the first half and returned the first 56 yards for a touchdown that put the Seminoles up 28-0.

On the next play from scrimmage, Andrews knocked the ball loose from Wake Forest running back Josh Harris, and fellow freshman defensive back Jalen Ramsey scooped the ball and ran 23 yards for a score.

Fisher doesn't permit freshmen to speak with the media, but Andrews' veteran teammates still had plenty of praise for him.

"He had a big game," senior linebacker Christian Jones said. "We prepare for situations where some guys go down and we have younger guys that are able to step up and step in spots if something happened. Nate Andrews capitalized on his opportunity."

Andrews, linebacker Terrance Smith, defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., Jones and defensive back Marquez White all intercepted passes for the Seminoles, whose six total interceptions matched a school record set in 1991. Wake quarterbacks Tanner Price and Tyler Cameron combined to complete 7 of 25 passes for 63 yards and three interceptions each.

"I'd like to say it was totally us shooting ourselves in the foot, but a big part of that was Florida State," Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe said. "I give them a lot of credit. That's a good football team."

FSU's defensive dominance, though, came at the slight expense of its offensive statistics. Of the Seminoles' five touchdown drives, only two came from beyond 15 yards -- the others came on the heels of turnovers.

Winston completed 17 of 28 passes (60.7 percent) for 159 yards, two TDs and an interception. Florida State was held under 300 yards of total offense for the first time since the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl, a fact skewed by the fact that the Seminoles played with reserves for most of the second half.

Backup quarterback Jacob Coker entered the game early in the third quarter and finished 4 of 9 for 37 yards.

"We were sharp, we just had the short fields," Fisher said. "The defense was playing so well ... It was a hard game, offensively, to get into, but that's just the way it goes."

Wake Forest's only points, a 23-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, were immediately answered by FSU freshman Levonte Whitfield, who returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. It was Florida State's first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2008.

The Demon Deacons (4-6, 2-5 ACC) managed just 165 yards of total offense, more than a third of which came via the legs of Harris. The senior carried 15 times for 65 yards, but also lost a fumble.

"We knew that our defense had their work cut out for them, but a lot of people overlooked Florida State's defense," Grobe said. "My biggest concern going into the game was not necessarily taking care of the football but getting first downs."

NOTES: FSU K Roberto Aguayo's 43-yard miss in the second quarter was the first missed kick of any kind in the redshirt freshman's career. He had previously made 71 straight kicks (12 field goals) to start the season. ... FSU lost WR Kelvin Benjamin in the second quarter to a concussion. Benjamin is the Seminoles' third-leading receiver. ... Wake Forest entered the game having won two of its last three home games against FSU. The Demon Deacons beat the Seminoles in 2007 and 2011. ... Wake Forest's Michael Campanaro, the ACC's leading receiver with 67 catches, missed the game with a broken collarbone.