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November 16, 2013

Florida State pulps Orange, 59-3

Video Highlights | Photo Gallery | Fisher post-game PC

With a controversy swirling, Florida State stuck to its first-half routine: blow the doors off ACC opposition, rinse, repeat.

The No. 2 Seminoles (10-0, 8-0 ACC) dominated yet another ACC opponent with a 59-3 thrashing of Syracuse (5-5, 3-3) on Saturday. The win came just after starting quarterback and Heisman candidate Jameis Winston was named in connection to an ongoing sexual assault investigation, setting off a media firestorm.

Fisher and FSU players did not speak about the investigation or any issues with Winston. If those issues were on their mind Saturday, it didn't show. The Seminoles were every bit as dominant as they had been this season. Saturday's game was enough to leave Syracuse coach Scott Shafer impressed.

"Hats off to Jimbo Fisher and Florida State," Shafer said. "That's one of the best football teams I've seen in my 23 years coaching. They are big, they are fast, they know what they're doing. ... The most positive thing I get out of this is now we know where the bar is set."

Winston returned to his usual stellar form. In the first half, he had 277 passing yards, two touchdowns and just two incompletions. The performance came after a lackluster outing at Wake Forest. Winston did not play in the second half but the first half was more than enough. With two passing TDs, Winston passed Charlie Ward - who was in attendance as FSU commemorated the 1993 national title team - for the third-most passing touchdowns in a single season in FSU history. Winston now has 28, trailing only Danny Kannel (32) and Chris Weinke (33). FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said he was pleased with how his team remained focused.

"Very proud of that," Fisher said. "Now we've got to do it next week and the next week and the next week and wherever our bowl game is. But I'm very proud of that and its maturity and that's a sign of our senior leadership."

Backup QB Sean Maguire played most of the second half in his first significant action at FSU. Filling in for injured Jacob Coker and threw his first career touchdown to Nick O'Leary. O'Leary's catch was his eleventh score of the season, setting a new FSU record for TD catches by a tight end. Maguire finished 3-5 passing with 21 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

And with the dominant offensive performance, FSU became the first team in ACC history to score 40 points in 10 straight games.

Not to be left out, Florida State was its usual dominating self. Syracuse averaged more than 200 rushing yards per game coming in to Saturday's contest, but FSU held the Orange to 5 yards on the ground in the first half.

So far this season, Florida State has outscored opponents 293-55 in the first half - or an average halftime margin of 29.3 to 5.5. The defense even managed to get on the board on its own when Chris Casher stripped Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt and returned the fumble for a score.

In fact, Florida State's second-team defense outscored Syracuse 7-3 with Casher's score, but the second unit did give up the shutout by allowing a Syracuse field goal in the fourth quarter. But yet again, the FSU defense allowed only the smallest of moral victories to an opponent.

"Basically just imposing my will upon then," defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "Just coming out and throwing the first punch. We're trying to create a dominant kind of chemistry among the defense."



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