The Duke Blue Devils put up a bit of a fight early, but Jameis Winston and the rest of the Florida State Seminoles were too sharp, too fast, and too good, leaving Duke in the dust, 45-7, and bringing an end to one of this year’s best stories in college football.
Yes, Duke will still have a bowl game to play, but the big story, the little team that could that had somehow stumbled to within one win of an ACC Championship and BCS Bowl berth, came crashing to an end.
I’m still not really sure how I feel about the loss. On one hand, Florida State was supposed to throttle Duke, the same way they’ve embarrassed every other team they’ve shared a field with this season. On the other hand, these Blue Devils have been full of surprises all year long, and they actually outplayed the Seminoles for the first fifteen minutes. To watch them crash, burn, and beg for mercy at the feet of Jameis Winston over the final forty-five minutes was disheartening, but I understood.
Duke is good, and they’re full of heart and confidence and an unshakeable will that brought them to the ACC Championship, but they ran into a brick wall tonight, the same brick wall that twelve other unfortunate teams have ran into, and the same one that I believe Auburn will run into into the National Championship.
It isn’t often that you’re going to run into a team this talented, with elite players flooding the depth chart and soaking it with camaraderie. Duke played hard–and at times they even played well–but the difference in talent level was far too much to overcome.
Jameis Winston, armed with offensive weapons and Heisman-talent, threw for 330 yards and ran for 59 more, totaling four touchdowns along the way. Devonta Freeman ran for 91 more yards and a touchdown. Karlos Williams bulldozed his way to another 55 yards and a touchdown. The receivers, as always, were magnificent, and easily tore through a vastly improved Duke secondary.
They wore the Blue Devils out with this well-balanced, high-powered offensive attack. And once Duke was nice and tired, they broke them.
Even if Duke played perfectly, they might not have won. They didn’t play perfectly, though. In fact, they played as far from perfect as they have all year.
Anthony Boone was a disaster in the biggest game of his career, completing just 20 of his 40 passes for 138 yards and two interceptions. All year long, we’ve been treated to good Boone and bad Boone. Tonight, we got really really bad Boone.
Nothing else was much better, as the rushing game averaged just 3.2 yards a carry, a result of a completely overwhelmed offensive line, and the defense was throttled for 569 total yards. Whether this should be attributed to Duke finally coming back to Earth or a testament to how dominant Florida State has been is entirely up to you.
Like I said, I still have no idea how to feel about all of this. I’m sure I’ll write plenty more on the game–what went wrong, what went right, what to take away, and all that good stuff-, but for right now, I just want to take a shower and forget about what just happened for the night. I’ll sort this all out tomorrow when everything is a little more objective.
For now, we’ll chalk it up to Florida State being a once-in-a-decade ACC team and congratulate them on their championship; they certainly earned it.
Congratulations, Florida State. We’ll be back next year, but congratulations.