With their path to Pasadena clear, the Florida State Seminoles took another step toward the BCS National Championship game on Saturday.
FSU’s defense turned seven Wake Forest turnovers into 38 points and quarterback Jameis Winston threw two touchdowns in two-plus quarters of work as the No. 2 Seminoles cruised to a 59-3 victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Florida State, 9-0 for the first time since its last national title season in 1999, is believed to have an inside track to a spot in the championship game after No. 3 Oregon’s loss to No. 5 Stanford earlier this week.
The Seminoles also clinched their second straight ACC Atlantic division title on Saturday, their third in four seasons under coach Jimbo Fisher.
Making his first start of the injured Terrence Brooks (concussion), FSU freshman defensive back Nate Andrews picked off two passes in the first half and returned the first 56 yards for a touchdown that put the Seminoles up 28-0.
On the next play from scrimmage, Andrews knocked the ball loose from Wake Forest running back Josh Harris, and fellow freshman defensive back Jalen Ramsey scooped the ball and ran 23 yards for a score.
Andrews, linebacker Terrance Smith, defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., linebacker Christian Jones and defensive back Marquez White all intercepted passes for the Seminoles, whose six total interceptions matched a school record set in 1991. Wake quarterbacks Tanner Price and Tyler Cameron combined to complete 7 of 25 passes for 63 yards and three interceptions each.
FSU’s defensive dominance, though, came at the slight expense of its offensive statistics. Of the Seminoles’ five touchdown drives, only two came from beyond 15 yards — the others came on the heels of turnovers.
Winston completed 17 of 28 passes (60.7 percent) for 159 yards, two TDs and an interception. Florida State was held under 300 yards of total offense for the first time since the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl, a fact skewed by the fact that the Seminoles played with reserves for most of the second half.
Backup quarterback Jacob Coker entered the game early in the third quarter and finished 4 of 9 for 37 yards.
Wake Forest’s only points, a 23-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, were immediately answered by FSU freshman Levonte Whitfield, who returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. It was Florida State’s first kick off return for a touchdown since 2008.
NOTES: FSU K Roberto Aguayo’s 43-yard miss in the second quarter was the first missed kick of any kind in the redshirt freshman’s career. He had previously made 71 straight kicks (12 field goals) to start the season. … FSU lost WR Kelvin Benjamin in the second quarter to a concussion. Benjamin is the Seminoles’ third-leading receiver. … Wake Forest entered the game having won two of its last three home games against FSU. The Demon Deacons beat the Seminoles in 2007 and 2011. … Wake Forest’s Michael Campanaro, the ACC’s leading receiver with 67 catches, missed the game with a broken collarbone.