CLEMSON, S.C. — Jameis Winston and Florida State didn’t take long to hush Death Valley, making a statement that that could be heard from Alabama to Oregon.
The Seminoles’ remarkable redshirt freshman threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns and No. 5 Florida State crushed No. 3 Clemson 51-14 Saturday night. When the first BCS standings of the season come out Sunday, Florida State should be right there with the top-ranked Crimson Tide and second-ranked Ducks, fighting for the top spots.
“Do we deserve to be in the top two? We deserve to be No. 1,” Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith said.
The Atlantic Coast Conference’s game of the year, billed as maybe the league’s biggest game ever, quickly became a Seminoles’ seminar on how to take apart a top-five opponent on its hostile home turf in front of 83,428.
“We don’t play against noise. We’re playing against the Clemson Tigers,” Winston said. “It was amazing, when we were out on the field that first snap. It was loud and we started smiling because we don’t play against noise.”
The game started with two Heisman Trophy contender quarterbacks. It ended with one.
Playing in one of the loudest stadiums in the country, Winston was unfazed, going 22 for 34 for Florida State (6-0, 4-0). His first throw was a 22-yard touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin, and he scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown that made it 41-7 with 4:04 left in the third quarter.
“They took advantage of our mistakes,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “They might be the best team in the country.”
Tajh Boyd threw two interceptions for Clemson, and his first-quarter fumble was returned 37 yards for touchdown by Mario Edwards. Clemson (6-1, 4-1) turned it over a season-high four times, the first one on the first play from scrimmage.
“We know we’re better than how we played, but nobody cares about that,” Swinney said.
Rashad Greene caught eight passes for 146 yards and two scores, including a 72-yard sprint that made it 24-7 Florida State in the second quarter.
The Seminoles broke a five-game losing streak at Memorial Stadium, scored more points than any opponent ever has in Death Valley and gave fourth-year coach Jimbo Fisher his biggest victory since taking over for Bobby Bowden.
Florida State is also perfect through six games for the first time since 1999, the last time Bowden’s ‘Noles won the national championship.
Maybe after all these years, the Seminoles are finally back to that level?
“They’re mature, they’re growing, they’re older, they understand the moments,” Fisher said of his team.