Florida State’s Jameis Winston passed for 393 yards and five touchdowns as the host Seminoles rout the Terrapins in a matchup of Top 25 teams. (Reuters)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — If Florida State freshman Jameis Winston has any weaknesses, the rest of the country will have to wait a little longer to see them exposed.
The eighth-ranked Seminoles rolled Saturday afternoon in a clash of ACC unbeaten, winning 63-0 against No. 25 Maryland, which was expected to be the first team this year to find any flaws in the Heisman candidate’s game.
Instead, Winston destroyed Maryland and the NCAA’s sixth-ranked defense in a home rout with 393 yards passing and five touchdowns. The Seminoles’ scoring onslaught began with a Karlos Williams 1-yard TD run in the first quarter and never slowed down — to the tune of eight straight touchdowns starting early in the second quarter.
It was the most lopsided win by Florida State in school history against a Top 25 opponent and its first shutout of a Top 25 team in 16 years.
“We give the quarterbacks all the glory and all the blame,” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, whose 36 wins ties him with former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen for the most after four seasons in ACC history. “(What Jameis did Saturday) stands out to you. I’m proud of him and what (he and the offense) did.”
Florida State, which racked up 612 yards in the rout, moved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the ACC — tied with No. 3 Clemson, which will host the Seminoles in one of the biggest games of the season in two weeks after FSU’s bye.
Maryland (4-1, 0-1), meanwhile, lost for the first time this season and fell to 0-12 on the road against FSU. The Seminoles lead the series 22-2, including seven wins in a row.
Winston completed 23 of 32 passes and also rushed for 24 yards, routinely escaping pressure by the Maryland defense, which came in tied for the FBS lead with 17 sacks but brought down Winston only once.
“He’s just an outstanding player,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall.
Maryland wasn’t as lucky with its quarterback.
The Terps had to play the majority of the game without C.J. Brown, who was leveled by FSU defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel with 5:33 left before halftime and stayed down for several minutes before getting up and walking to the locker room.
Brown, a senior, was replaced by sophomore Caleb Rowe. Brown came into the game as the ACC’s top-ranked offensive threat at 331.5 yards a game but was 6-for-14 passing for 82 yards when he suffered the injury, which was later diagnosed as a concussion.
Rowe didn’t fare much better, going 9 of 17 for 112 yards as Maryland tallied seven punts and a fumble after he took over.
The credit for that goes to FSU’s defense, which sorely needed a dominating performance after a frustrating win last weekend in which it gave up 34 points at Boston College.
Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith and defensive end Chris Casher each led with five tackles, while Casher added a sack and Ronald Darby recovered a fumble. Florida State also forced Maryland into six three-and-outs.
“You always want to play with a chip on your shoulder. The biggest thing was that we helped each other out,” FSU junior defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said of all the attention Maryland’s third-ranked scoring defense received before the game. “We played with a lot of confidence and we prepared right.”
Winston said he feels like the offense is getting better every game.
“With the team that I have, it’s always been easy,” Winston said. “I’m getting used to the speed and everything, (plus) … I have so many weapons.”
Four of FSU’s six second-half scores came by way of Winston’s golden arm, including strikes of 8 and 12 yards to tight end Nick O’Leary and a pair of 21-yarders to Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin.
O’Leary and Benjamin each caught two of Winston’s TD passes, while Rashad Greene led the Seminoles in receiving with four catches for 108 yards and Devonta Freeman was the team’s top rusher with 17 carries for 63 yards. Williams also scored twice for Florida State, his final TD coming from 17 yards out early in the fourth quarter to make the score 56-0.
The Terps seemed to all but give up from there, going three-and-out on five of their final six possessions against the Seminoles’ backups.
“Not really much to say, (about this loss),” Edsall said, followed by a long pause and shake of his head. “We weren’t very good. Florida State’s a very good team. I take full responsibility for this. We didn’t play well offensively, defensively, special teams.
“I know the guys in the locker room, and I know who they are and I know the resolve that we have. We will be back and we will look at this and get better.”
Maryland tallied a season-low 33 rushing yards and was unable to get the Terps’ top offensive weapon, sophomore wideout Stefon Diggs, involved. Diggs, a former five-star recruit who came in averaging an ACC-best 22 yards a catch, was held in check by FSU’s defense. He had just two catches for 24 yards. Deon Long led Maryland with three catches for 77 yards.
FSU kicker Robert Aguayo, who hadn’t missed all season and came into the game tied for the ACC’s scoring lead at 11.8 points a game, stayed perfect Saturday when he was 9-for-9 on PATs, while Greene extended his team-best streak to 20 straight games with a reception.
But Saturday’s game ball went to the FSU defense.
“I think our defense can play against any kind of offense,” sophomore end Mario Edwards said. “It was probably the best week of practices that we had all season, and we just put what we did in practice into this game.”
NOTES: Williams scored his second TD with 11:28 left with a 17-yard run, followed by a 24-yard rushing TD from FSU backup QB Jacob Coker. … Maryland will look to rebound next week when it hosts Virginia, while FSU has a bye week before its Oct. 19 showdown with Clemson. … FSU extended its ACC winning streak to nine games — the longest streak since the Seminoles won 24 straight from Sept. 19, 1998, to Sept. 1, 2001. FSU has outscored its conference opponents 374-132 during that stretch. … Maryland’s last win against a Top 25 opponent was vs. N.C. State in 2010. … FSU starting center Brian Stork, one of the Seminoles’ senior leaders, left the game in the first half and did not return after being diagnosed with a concussion. … Maryland’s last win in the series came in 2006, when it beat FSU 27-24. … Florida State suspended redshirt freshman LB Ukeme Eligwe for Saturday’s game due to a violation of team rules. Eligwe had played in all four games and was seventh on the team in tackles (14).