CHARLOTTE — Jameis Winston solidified his Heisman Trophy resume, going 19-32 passing for 330 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, as he helped the Florida State Seminoles defeat the Duke Blue Devils 45-7 in the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship game on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in front an announced attendance of 67,694.
“It means a lot,” said Winston about getting his name in the ACC record books. “But as a teammate and having the guys right here beside me, our team is trying to make history, we’re not trying to look at individual stats and things like that.”
Duke’s defense did a good job early in the game, holding FSU to 83 yards in the first quarter. The Blue Devils also managed to become the first team to hold the Noles scoreless during the opening quarter this season.
“They say sometimes the ball don’t go in the cup or don’t go in the basket every now and then,” said FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher about his team’s first quarter performance. “That’s team ball and that’s the way you have to play. And that’s why I think this team is a good team, because it’s a complete team.”
FSU would find their rhythm after the scoreless opening stanza, as the Noles went for 185 yards of total offense in the second quarter.
The Noles took a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter when Winston hit Kelvin Benjamin for a 14-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone. FSU wouldn't look back from there.
Things didn’t get better for the Blue Devils in the second half as Winston would go on to get the Noles on the scoreboard three times in the third quarter, including his 17-yard touchdown run. FSU would score 21 of their 45 points during that time.
Duke would go on to score a touchdown during the final minutes of the game, but overall FSU’s defense held the Blue Devils in check. The Noles cause 3 turnovers for the game and held Duke to 239 yards of total offense.
“I’ll just say the power of preparation, the way we prepare week in and week out. That’s where our confidence comes from.” said defensive back Lamarcus Joyner following the game. “So when the game comes, it’s easy.”
Even though Winston did win the game’s MVP, Duke managed to intercept him twice during the game.
Winston is now easily the front-runner for this season’s Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded in New York on Saturday, Dec. 14.
“I’m going to say this: if he isn’t, it’s a short roll call, I’ll promise you that, but he’s one of them.” said Fisher when asked if Winston was the best quarterback in the country. “He’s a very dynamic player, he’s fun to coach.”
With the win FSU finishes the regular season undefeated at 13-0, while also clinching a spot in the BCS National Championship game in Pasadena, Calif. The Noles improved their record to 19-0 all-time against the Blue Devils with the lopsided win.
“Tonight is over. Tonight is done.” said Joyner about his defense’s confidence level going into Pasadena. “We have to just do the little things that we’ve been doing all season, and by the time we’re in California and ready to play in the National Championship, then I’ll say that we’re confident.”
Duke finishes the regular season with a 10-3 record and will now travel to their second consecutive bowl game. Despite the loss this was a historic season for the Blue Devils, as they played in their first-ever ACC Championship game.