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CHARLOTTE - The Seminoles are going west.
Florida State (13-0) upended Duke (10-3) 45-7 on Saturday to win its second straight ACC title and also punch its ticket to the national title game.
"We definitely are going to celebrate this win," defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "But when we come back it's back to business. because everything you sacrifice for, all that stuff you do you do it for this game."
After the final buzzer sounded, FSU players celebrated on the field with roses and gave coaches Gatorade baths. As fans cheered the trophy presentation, Jimbo Fisher waved them down.
"We're not champions yet," he repeated.
National champions the Noles are not, but after Saturday what they are is the the most dominant team in college football in 2013. FSU has won a school-record 13 tames and has an average margin of victory north of 40 points.
Jameis Winston, two days removed from hearing the announcement that he would not be charged in a sexual assault investigation, seemed to struggle in the first quarter Saturday, going just 3-8 for 42 yards. FSU was shut out of the first period for the first time all season.
But Winston recovered well, finishing with 332 yards on 19-32 passing, three TDs and one interception. His 14-yard needle through double coverage to Kelvin Benjamin put FSU on the board in the second quarter, and in the third quarter he broke FSU's season record for passing touchdowns and set a new NCAA freshman record as well. Winston accounted for four touchdowns on the night, including his third quarter 17-yard touchdown scramble where he hurdled a Duke defender to break the plane.
Even when Winston did make mistakes, FSU's dominant defense was more than good enough to cover. Florida State had two interceptions and forced a fumble, and held Duke to just 2.8 yards per play for the game.
When Duke did get pick off Winston near the end of the second quarter, FSU's defense held Duke to a three-and-out.
"Seeing the defense hold them to no points that just gives the offense more momentum to go out there and make plays," Benjamin said.
The second half was more of the same as Winston and FSU's offense ground down Duke's defense. The Seminoles led 17-0 at halftime and reeled off three straight touchdown drives in the third quarter to put the game decisively out of reach.
Winston found Benjamin again, then found then Kenny Shaw and finally hurdled a defender for a score on the ground. By the time Duke could take a breath, the game was 38-0 and out of reach.
It was yet another dominant performance in what's become routine for FSU, regardless of the state. FSU had the usually ridiculously one-sided statistics: Florida State racked up more than 500 yards of total offense while Duke didn't top 200 until the final four minutes of play. Duke went 6-19 on third down while FSU went 6-11, throwing in a handful of back-
But on Saturday those typically dominant performances carried extra weight: Winston's performance was likely enough to cement his status as the front-runner for the Heisman trophy, and certainly enough to put FSU into the title game in Pasadena, Calif. What's more, the opponent will likely be Auburn, the SEC champion.
"We've still got some more history to write," Kenny Shaw said. "We've still got one more game to win."