Florida State rips Florida to stay unbeaten
Gainesville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes to Kelvin Benjamin as the second-ranked Florida State Seminoles concluded an undefeated regular season with a 37-7 victory over rival Florida.
Winston continued to put any distractions from an ongoing sexual assault investigation aside, completing 19-of-31 passes for 327 yards. Benjamin accounted for the bulk of the yards as he totaled a career-high 212 on nine receptions.
Devonta Freeman added a rushing touchdown for Florida State (12-0).
"Extremely proud of our guys being able to finish the (regular) season off the right way," said Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher.
The last 12-0 Florida State team reached that mark by capturing the 1999 national championship. The current incarnation is now seemingly a win over Duke in next week's ACC championship game away from contesting for another national title. Whether Winston will be available to play is unclear.
For the first time this season, the Seminoles failed to score at least 40 points. They had tied the 2005 Texas squad's single-season FBS mark for the most consecutive 40-point games.
Skyler Mornhinweg connected on 20-of-25 passes, but had just 115 yards and a touchdown for the Gators (4-8), who wrapped up their first losing season since 1979 on a seven-game slide.
"A very frustrating, difficult day that ends a very frustrating, difficult season," said Florida head coach Will Muschamp.
The Florida defense came to play in the first quarter, picking off Winston once and limiting the high-powered Seminoles to a Roberto Aguayo 49-yard field goal.
The kick followed a missed field goal by Florida's Austin Hardin from the same distance. A 50-yard run up the middle on a wildcat keeper by Trey Burton put the Gators in FSU territory. Unfortunately for Florida, the dynamic wide receiver left with a shoulder injury and didn't return.
In the second quarter, the Gators' defense wore down a bit as Winston led touchdown drives of 96 and 74 yards.
Pinned by a Florida punt at its own 4-yard line, FSU converted a trio of third downs, none bigger than Kenny Shaw's 27-yard catch on 3rd-and-26 from the 15. Shaw managed to hold onto the ball despite absorbing a huge hit in the middle of the field.
Winston then capped the 12-play sequence by hitting Benjamin, who broke a series of tackles, for a 45-yard TD pass. The duo hooked up again for a 29- yard scoring strike with 25 seconds remaining.
Florida State went three-and-out to begin the second half, but defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. sacked Mornhinweg on first down of the ensuing Florida drive, forcing a fumble that was recovered by teammate Telvin Smith.
A false start penalty bumped the Seminoles out of the red zone and they eventually settled for a 40-yard Aguayo field goal.
On the next FSU possession, Benjamin picked up 56 yards with an over-the- shoulder grab and the big play set up Freeman's 11-yard TD run on the subsequent snap.
The Gators were driving at the outset of the fourth quarter, and Mornhinweg ended Florida State's shutout bid by hitting Hunter Joyer for a 5-yard touchdown.
Benjamin's third TD catch, this one of four yards, made it 34-7 and Aguayo added a 28-yard field goal with 3:14 to play.
Winston now has a single-season school record 35 touchdown passes. He broke Chris Weinke's mark of 33 from the 2000 campaign ... Winston now holds the ACC record for most passing yards in a season by a freshman with 3,490. He passed former Seminole Drew Weatherford, who had 3,208 passing yards in 2005 ... Florida State has won 14 straight games, the longest streak for the program since a 17-game run from Aug. 28, 1999-Oct. 7, 2000 ... The Seminoles outgained the Gators 456-193 ... Florida registered only eight first downs.
11/30 18:12:31 ET