Talking Points: Duke a tough out for FSU
Posted December 8, 2013
1. No moral victories for Duke in the ACC Championship.
The Blue Devils came to Charlotte believing they could beat Florida State. After holding the Seminoles scoreless in the opening quarter for the first time this season, Duke at least made you consider it was possible. The positive vibes proved fleeting as FSU slowly asserted their dominance in the second quarter and eventually swept the Devils' leg after halftime.
Duke gave a great effort, but hard to compete when no more than 2 of your guys might contend for starting spots on the other team.— Heath Cline (@heathradio) December 8, 2013
The eye-opening aspect of Florida State's victory was the building wave of physicality that ultimately consumed Duke. Each team traded big hits early on, but the Seminoles had the size and depth to withstand those shots. That advantage in personnel was the driving force behind the Seminoles' utter destruction of the ACC.
Duke had a great regular season and getting to the championship game in Charlotte is an accomplishment. While this exact sort of thing is unlikely to be the new normal for football in Durham, head coach David Cutcliffe has pulled the program out of the abyss and the Blue Devils must be taken seriously going forward.
2. Florida State opened the game with a punt, a fumble and another punt. Duke was presented with the rare opportunity to build an early lead against the Seminoles, but the Blue Devils failed to put numbers on the board.
Following Devonta Freeman's fumble Duke's 3-yard line, the Blue Devils engineered a 15-play drive spanning 67-yards. Ross Martin missed a 48-yard field goal attempt that would have given Duke the first lead of the game with 5:07 left in the first quarter.
Trailing 7-0 with 10:01 left in second quarter, Jamison Crowder returned a punt 40-yards into Florida State territory. Quarterback Anthony Boone threw an interception three plays later and the Seminoles would score a touchdown on the subsequent drive.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston overthrew intended receiver Rashad Greene and gifted Duke an interception with just over two minutes to go in the half. However, the Blue Devils' offense stalled again. Cutcliffe played it conservatively on fourth down, wanting the score to remain 14-0 at halftime, but it backfired when Florida State hit the break with a field goal.
The scoreboard read 17-0 at halftime, but it felt like Florida State was up by at least 35.
The second half wasn't much better as Duke couldn't answer any of the Florida State touchdowns until the final minute of the title game.
3. Big hits. Powerful running. Incredible catches. Florida State was just too strong for Duke during key stretches.
Seminoles wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was a huge reason why the Blue Devils defense wore down.
What a throw by Jameis Winston! http://t.co/s6kr49RikE— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) December 8, 2013
And here's running back Karlos Williams making it look easy against Duke.
Thanks for playing, Duke. http://t.co/TPdPkruO5x— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) December 8, 2013
Those are just a couple examples of where Florida State flexed on the Blue Devils. Benjamin broke the game wide open when he hauled in a 54-yard touchdown pass from Winston to extend FSU's lead to 31-points with 6:31 left in the third quarter.
4. Jameis Winston will always be the shiniest object on the football field, but Florida State's defense deserves much of the credit for shutting down Duke's running game. The Blue Devils slogged through 31 carries for 99 yards.
Without a ground game, Anthony Boone struggled to carry the weight. The Seminoles never allowed him to get comfortable. Boone ended the night 20-of-40 for 138 yards and two interceptions.
The inability to establish the running game also prevented change-of-pace quarterback Brandon Connette from doing any sort of pace changing.
The Blue Devils were 7-for-20 on third down and faced an average distance of 6.3 yards. With only 15 first downs on the night, Duke
5. Whether it was to impress Heisman voters or leave little doubt in the minds of BCS pundits, Florida State kept Winston and other starters deep into a game that was effectively over midway through the third quarter.
Duke didn't want to go out like punks and the game took on a chippy tone after safety Dwayne Norman hit Winston as the quarterback was going out of bounds. The Heisman hopeful wasn't pleased, so the Seminoles started taking shots down the field to make an emphatic point. Winston found tight end Nick O'Leary the end zone, but Norman blew him up as he was catching the ball.
Officials ruled Norman targeted O'Leary and ejected him from the game.
6. Prepare yourselves. The hot sports takes are coming.
SEC pundits will tell you Florida State's methodical takedown of Duke proves the Seminoles aren't as good as Auburn and Alabama. Pardon me while I try and keep my eyes from rolling into the back of my head.
Florida State wasn't Ohio State. The Seminoles dominated throughout their undefeated season and they deserve the top spot in the BCS standings. There is no debate. End of discussion.
College football avoided the perceived national crisis of having a championship game without an SEC team. Now Florida State will have the chance to be the man by beating the man.