WINSTON-SALEM — Third-ranked Florida State did what it came to do Saturday and departed, leaving behind only the devastation of a 59-3 dismantling of hapless Wake Forest at BB&T Field.
Capitalizing on seven turnovers, FSU didn’t have to break much of a sweat while clinching the ACC’s Atlantic Division title for the second straight season and third time in four seasons. The Seminoles returned an interception, a fumble recovery and a kickoff for touchdowns and also had five interceptions that set up touchdown drives of 2, 15, 28, 5 and 40 yards.
By the time the Seminoles extended their lead to 35-0 on Jalen Ramsey’s 35-yard fumble return and the extra point, with 13 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in the first half, they had all of 102 yards of offense.
“Wow, wow, wow,” Coach Jim Grobe of Wake Forest said when told the statistic. “That’s the tale of the tape right there, absolutely.”
The Seminoles intercepted three of the Deacons’ first four passes and four of their first eight, with the first three thrown by starter Tanner Price and the fourth by reserve Tyler Cameron. The seven turnovers were the most by Wake Forest since the 1963 team lost seven in a 27-0 home loss to Virginia Tech.
The margin of defeat was Wake Forest’s most lopsided since a 72-13 loss at Florida State in 1995 and the widest ever at what is now called BB&T Field. FSU’s points also were the most the Deacons have yielded at their current home stadium.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” senior guard Frank Souza said. “Obviously, that’s a great team. They’re obviously the No. 2 team in the nation.
“On offense, we just kind of killed ourselves with a bunch of turnovers.”
The Seminoles improved to 9-0 overall (7-0 ACC) despite gaining only 296 yards on offense. That was a season low for FSU, easily eclipsing the 489 yards it gained in a 48-34 victory against Boston College on Sept. 28.
Receiver Rashad Greene, who caught a team-high five passes for 47 yards, said that the Seminoles have work to do before next weekend’s home game against Syracuse in their ACC finale.
“We never really got in sync … ,” Greene said. “We’ve got to do a better job executing and being more consistent.
“We definitely didn’t play our ‘A’ game today on offense, and that’s something we’ve got to work on.”
For the second time this season, Grobe pulled Price with the tide against the Deacons already high and rising. Instead of waiting until the second half, as he did in the 56-7 loss at Clemson on Sept. 28, Grobe sent Cameron, a redshirt freshman, into the fray with 13:56 left in the first half.
He declined to say that Price will be the starting quarterback when Wake Forest returns to practice Thursday. The Deacons will have next weekend off before playing Duke at BB&T Field on Nov. 23.
Grobe said that the decision will ultimately be made by Tom Elrod, the assistant coach for quarterbacks. Price completed only one of four passes for 3 yards; Cameron completed five of 19 for 63 yards.
Cameron, like Price, also threw three interceptions.
“We’ll have to look at it,” Grobe said. “We just got into a position where it was good to let Tyler (play). He’s a freshman, and I think he’s got a good future, so it was time to let the young guy play.
“That will totally be Tommy’s decision. We think Tyler’s got a lot of ability. He’s just so young, he hasn’t been doing it a lot. So we’ll look at that next week and kind of have something figured out by Duke week.”
Quarterback Jameis Winston, FSU’s freshman phenom who came into the game averaging more than 10 yards a play, completed 17 of 28 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. He was picked off by safety Ryan Janvion on the first possession of the second half.
“I think our defense did a good job,” nose guard Nikita Whitlock said. “Any time you can hold a team under 300 total yards, I mean ... . But they just got so many turnovers compared to what we did. That turnover ratio was so big.
“It’s hard to overcome a deficit of seven turnovers to (one). That’s really hard to come back from. Ball security was the key to the game honestly. I think if we could have held on to the ball, we would have played them a whole lot tougher.”
The Deacons fell to 4-6 overall (2-5 ACC) with their third straight loss. They’ll have to sweep their final two games against Duke and Vanderbilt to qualify for a bowl and give themselves a crack at their first winning season since 2008.
And they’ll probably have to do so without Michael Campanaro, the school’s all-time leader in receptions who broke his collarbone at Syracuse.
“But we’ve got to play much better than we did today,” Grobe said. “I told them we wouldn’t beat anybody the way we played today offensively.”
The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Wake Forest coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/wfu