TALLAHASSE, Fla. — Throughout the one-sided history of the Duke and Florida State series, the Seminoles have topped 41 points in 16 of the 18 games.
The most recent occurrence came Saturday at Doak S. Campbell Stadium, as the No. 11 Seminoles physically manhandled Duke 48-7. Even though the game featured the leaders of the ACCs Coastal and Atlantic Divisions, it was a clear mismatch from the start.
We got whipped, Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. And theres no recipe that could have changed it.
FSU quarterback EJ Manuels first four completions all went for at least 25 yards (25, 34, 52, 71). Both Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell and Cutcliffe said after the game that the big plays werent a result of coverage breakdowns, but instead were due to the superior size and speed of both Manuel and his receivers.
We had people there, Cutcliffe said. It was their athleticism and size and (Manuel) being able to hold the ball some. And the guy can throw the ball 70 yards.
Meanwhile, Duke (6-3, 3-2 ACC) started the game 0-for-6 on third down and did not convert one until the Seminoles had a 31-0 lead. FSU entered the game leading the nation in opponent third down percentage (23.2 percent) and in forced three-and-outs, which Duke did three times in the first half while the game was still somewhat competitive.
Theyre big, theyre fast, theyre physical, wide receiver Desmond Scott said of the Seminoles defense. Theyre going to talk junk, everything you want from a defense. Just a hard-nosed defense.
When Manuel left the game early in the fourth quarter, FSU had outgained Duke in total yards, 486-202.
One area of the game in which the Blue Devils had success was generating turnovers. FSU entered the game with seven turnovers total on the year, but the Seminoles lost four fumbles in the game, including three in the third quarter alone.
Dukes only touchdown drive of the game came in the second quarter, and, at 14 plays and 90 yards, it was the longest drive allowed by the Seminoles this season. Thirty of those yards, though, came on two FSU personal foul penalties that knocked both Juwan Thompson and Sean Renfree out of the game. Both were hit high by safeties Lamarcus Joyner and Karlos Williams, respectively, on what were deemed illegal hits.
But when Jela Duncan ran the ball in from three yards out, Duke was on the board at 31-7 with 4:25 remaining in the first half. The only other scoring opportunity for Duke came in the third quarter, but Ross Martin, who had made 14 consecutive field goals, missed from 24 yards.
Cutcliffe said he didnt see either hit. Renfree will be monitored for a head injury while Thompson will be checked for internal injuries and undergo X-rays on his mouth and jaw.
Its football, he said. Theyre a physical team, and things like that happen from time to time unfortunately. Its just part of the game.
FSU (8-1, 5-1) wasted little time flashing its superior athleticism, as the Seminoles took three plays and 52 seconds to open up the scoring. On third-and-10 from the FSU 29-yard line, Dukes starting cornerback, Lee Butler, slid to safety to fill in for the injured Brandon Braxton. That left reserve Tony Foster on FSU wide receiver Rashad Greene, who burned Foster for the long catch. And even though Foster did catch up to Greene before he reached the end zone, he could not bring him down, resulting in a 71-yard touchdown catch. Florida State led 7-0 with 11:20 remaining in the first.
Duke true freshman Dwayne Norman, also helping fill in for the injured Braxton, recovered a fumble on Dukes 32-yard line after FSUs Manuel was pressured and hit by the Duke defense. The offense, though, ran a play for negative yards on each of its first three drives, including this particular one, and Will Monday came on to punt. The ensuing kick was returned for a 75-yard touchdown by FSUs Tyler Hunter, who just assumed those duties this week and had only fielded two punts before this game. The Seminoles led 14-0 at that point.
Florida State built a 31-0 lead before the Duncan touchdown.
FSU has never lost to Duke with an 18-0 all-time record. Thats the second-longest conference losing streak in ACC history, second to Clemsons 29 straight wins over Virginia. Observations
Duke right tackle Perry Simmons had a particularly tough day, as he was personally responsible for four of Dukes 10 penalties. Simmons was flagged for back-to-back false starts when Duke had third-and-6 on the Florida State 20-yard line (Duke did score its touchdown on that drive, but Sean Renfree was injured two plays later on the fourth-down pass conversion). Simmons was also flagged for two holding calls and was replaced after the second by John Coleman.
This was Florida States first homecoming win of the Jimbo Fisher era. The Seminoles lost to North Carolina and Virginia in their previous two. And while the game was not a sellout (there were 71,467 tickets distributed, and Doak S. Campbell stadium holds 82,300), it will likely the largest crowd Duke plays in front of this year.
Duke players and coaches alike were all succinct in their assessment of the game: Florida State was the better team. Period. Theyre a talented football team, senior defensive Kenny Anunike. I feel like we both game ready to play. We just got beat. Flat-out. Anunike had his personal streak of recording at least a half-sack in every game this season snapped Saturday.
Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley