Charlottesville,Va. - Florida State came away from its first road trip looking overrated and overwhelmed. Three weeks later, the 'Noles come away from their second looking like one of the hottest teams in the country and their timing couldn't be better.
FSU rolled to its third straight win in convincing fashion racing out to a 27-0 halftime lead on their way to a 34-14 thrashing of the Cavaliers (2-2, 0-1 ACC) on a sunny Saturday afternoon in front of 47,096 fans at Scott Stadium.
"I think it's huge. You learn to go on the road, a different environment and travel. We overcame some adversity in the second half," head coach Jimbo Fisher said of the win. "They (Virginia) got some momentum in the game and were able to make some plays. I think we got sloppy. But it's 2-0 in the league. If you're going to get conference titles, you need to learn to win on the road."
The Seminoles (4-1, 2-0) have now outscored their last three opponents 99-24 heading into their visit to rival Miami (3-1, 1-0 ACC) next Saturday. The Hurricanes will also have momentum heading into this game after a 30-21 win at Clemson that ended just minutes after FSU walked off the field.
FSU's defense put together another dominating performance, racking up six sacks and holding the Cavs to just 42 total yards in the first half (they finished with 304, much of which came with the outcome already sealed).
"We wanted to shock them on the first drive and let them know we are about business," defensive end Everett Dawkins said. "Just knock them around on the first couple plays and that kind of stuns them a little bit."
The offense was once again led by the run game, which for the first time since the 2000 season eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark (256) for the third straight game. With the team's leading rusher Ty Jones out with a sprained ankle, Jermaine Thomas led the way with 122 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Most of the damage from Thomas came on a 70-yard scoring scamper in the first quarter that put the 'Noles up 10-0. Chris Thompson chipped in 76 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.
"He's huge," Christian Ponder said of Thomas' performance. "Ty (Jones) was out so he and Chris (Thompson) really stepped up. Jermaine had that long touchdown and that one where somehow he got into the end zone. He was on fire today."
Christian Ponder lofted a 15-yard touchdown pass to Willie Haulstead on FSU's next drive. Thomas later scored on a 10-yard run and after a 21-yard field goal by Hopkins, the 'Noles held a 24-0 lead at the break.
Virginia finally got on the board in the third quarter when receiver Kris Burd got wide open on a busted coverage play and turned the catch into a 76-yard touchdown.
Following Burd's touchdown, UVA drove into the red zone trailing 27-7. But, Greg Reid made his first of two interceptions on the day. FSU's offense then marched 80 yards on six plays and put the game away on Thompson's 14-yard touchdown run up the middle.
Late in the game the Cavs added a touchdown against an FSU defense manned primarily by back-ups.
The entire performance was the antithesis of FSU's last road trip, which resulted in a 47-17 loss at No. 8 Oklahoma on Sept. 11.
Hopkins also had a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter on his only other attempt.
Starting linebacker Mister Alexander (concussion), starting safety Nick Moody and cornerback/kick returner Lamarcus Joyner (ankle) each left the game with injuries and did not return. Starting left tackle Andrew Datko did not dress out for the third straight game due to a shoulder injury and was replaced by Zebrie Sanders, who normally starts at right tackle. Henry Orelus took over Sanders' spot at right tackle.
FSU had held opponents scoreless for the previous eight quarters (dating back to the BYU game) until Burd's touchdown.
FSU has now scored 31 or more points in three straight games. It's the first time they've had such a streak since 2004.
This was the largest halftime deficit for Virginia since trailing 31-0 against Virginia Tech in 2001
This was the first time Virginia has hosted FSU for a day game.
FSU's game captains were left guard Rodney Hudson, cornerback Greg Reid and defensive end Markus White.