No. 1 Florida State (13-0, 9-0 ACC) may have gotten off to a slow start, but the Seminoles had few problems putting away No. 20 Duke (10-3, 6-3) in the ACC Championship Game Saturday in Charlotte. After winning their second straight ACC championship with a 45-7 victory over the Blue Devils, the Seminoles are now set to travel to Pasadena to play in the final BCS Championship Game.
Jameis Winston, the Heisman favorite showed a number of freshman moments that had been missing for much of the season. Credit some of that to Duke, but there were moments when Winston may have been trying to force some plays to happen that just were not there. A couple of overthrown passes were picked off by Duke’s secondary, but Winston still had a good night with 295 passing yards and three touchdowns. Winston is the only lock to receive a trip to New York for next weekend’s Heisman Trophy presentation, and it he is the clear favorite. His top target in this championship game was Kelvin Benjamin, who hauled in two touchdown passes from the redshirt freshman quarterback.
Up 38-0 in the fourth quarter, Jimbo Fisher kept his starters in with nothing to prove. The decision may have led to one of the uglier moments of the game, when Duke safety Dwayne Norman led with the crown of his helmet in to the chest of Florida State’s Nick O’Leary on a pass over the middle to the end zone. After Winston had already completed one long pass to move the Seminoles down field, he went right back to the air for O’Leary but threw a bit high. That left O’Leary wide open for a hit to the chest, but Norman was ejected after being called for targeting. Norman will have to sit out the first half of Duke’s bowl game, but why Fisher had his starters in there at that point in the game and why they were throwing deep to pile on is certainly worth some criticism and questioning. Florida State was not in a position to need any style points and Winston is already the runaway favorite for the Heisman Trophy. This was a poor decision by Fisher. Florida State picked up the touchdown shortly after with Devonta Freeman scoring from seven-yards out to go up 45-0.
With Ohio State losing in the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State, it looks certain to be Florida State and Auburn for the BCS Championship this season. We will find out for sure Sunday night when the bowl pairings become official with the final BCS standings of the season.