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September 8, 2012

FSU rolls to 55-0 win before weather cancellation

In a strange way, the biggest mismatch in college football history lived up to the billing.

Yes, as expected, No. 6 Florida State - installed as a record 70.5 point favorite - dismissed lowly Savannah State swiftly with a monsoon of points and yardage. And yes, as expected from a team that lost 84-0 the week prior, Savannah State was outmatched from the coin toss, offering zero answers for the Seminoles' personnel.

But even in a rout came the unexpected that fits the mismatch mold: The contest would end with two weather delays, a running clock, plenty of confusion and eventually a cancellation due to severe weather with 8:49 left in the third quarter. All told, it would go down as an odd 55-0 FSU win at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday night.

"Well, that's a first," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher joked.

With Florida State firmly in control at 55-0, the stadium barren and immersed in a second weather delay, officials for both schools met and decided to call the game off.

FSU Athletics Director Randy Spetman released a statement on the decision to cancel: "In light of the severe weather conditions that we have encountered throughout the evening and after consultation with officials from Savannah State, the ACC and NCAA, we have determined it is best for us to terminate the game with a determined final score of 55-0."

According to NCAA guidelines, if a game does not reach its full conclusion but a result is determined by game officials or competing institutions, the victory and statistics will still count towards season and career totals.

Fisher was hoping to see the game continue but understood the decision given the score and the circumstances.

"It's easy for me to sit here and say I want to keep playing, but I understand the situation especially when we've got bad weather coming in, they've got a bus ride (back to Savannah, Ga.), doing the things they've got to do," Fisher said. "But as a competitor you want to keep playing because you want to see some of your young guys."

"(Jimbo) has got a conference schedule that he's got to get prepared for; we've got a conference schedule so we shook hands and agreed it was time to go," Savannah State head coach Steve Davenport said.

When it comes to the scoreboard, Fisher's starters made the outcome clear immediately.

On Florida State's second offensive play, quarterback EJ Manuel found receiver Rodney Smith for a routine throw and catch for a 61-yard touchdown. The points came just 39 seconds into the game.

With the mismatch in full swing, the points kept coming with no resistance.

After a quick Savannah State three-and-out, FSU scored on a six-yard Chris Thompson run with 11:51 left in the first quarter to make it 14-0. Then came two more three-and-outs and two more touchdown passes in a 50-second span, one to Greg Dent and the first career score for Kelvin Benjamin.

"It felt good," Manuel said. "Everything was open that we thought would be open and all the looks we saw in practice they showed to us in the game so we were definitely prepared for it."

All told, FSU would amass 255 total yards in the first quarter alone. Manuel was 11-of-13 passing for 161 yards and three touchdowns in the opening period before giving way to backup Clint Trickett in the second quarter. Before halftime, FSU's lineup was comprised of second-and third-team players.

FSU would tack on 13 more points before the initial weather delay with 3:49 left in the second quarter and FSU leading 48-0. After the 56-minute break, the two schools had agreed to a running clock for the remainder of the game - believed to be a first in FSU history - and a shortened 10-minute halftime break because of approaching storms.

But they would only get 10 minutes of game action in the rest of the way.

By game's end, Florida State racked up 413 yards while holding the Tigers (0-2) - who lost to Oklahoma State 84-0 last week - to 28 total yards and three first downs. Devonta Freeman led all rushers with 69 yards while Smith paced the receivers three catches for 77 yards.

Even with such dominance, FSU players said they remained focused in the locker room during the delay in case they were to take the field a third time.

"We weren't laughing around and joking around, we knew there was still time on the clock," Manuel said.

But in the biggest mismatch in college football, it turns out the weather, the fans and the clock had seen enough.



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