The big play doomed Duke early as Florida State raced out to a 31-7 lead.
FSU wasted little time flashing its superior athleticism, as the Seminoles took three plays and 52 seconds to open up the scoring. On third-and-10 from the FSU 29-yard line, Duke’s starting cornerback, Lee Butler, slid to safety to fill in for the injured Brandon Braxton. That left reserve Tony Foster on FSU wide receiver Rashad Greene, who burned Foster for the long catch. And even though Foster did catch up to Greene before he reached the end zone, he could not bring him down, resulting in a 71-yard touchdown catch. Florida State led 7-0 with 11:20 remaining in the first.
Duke true freshman Dwayne Norman, also helping fill in for the injured Braxton, recovered a fumble on Duke’s 32-yard line after FSU quarterback EJ Manuel was pressured and hit by the Duke defense. The offense, though, ran a play for negative yards on each of its first three drives, including this particular one, and Will Monday came on to punt. The ensuing kick was returned for a 75-yard touchdown by FSU’s Tyler Hunter, who just assumed those duties this week.
FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins added a 26-yard field goal to put the Seminoles up 17-0 to end the first quarter.
The long pass continued to plague Duke in the second quarter, as Manuel found Rodney Smith, who had beaten Ross Cockrell, in the middle of the field for a 52-yard gain on the drive’s opening play. Two James Wilder Jr runs later, and the Seminoles had a 24-0 lead. That was the second three-play scoring drive that took less then a minute off the clock.
Devonta Freeman gave the Seminoles a 31-0 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run right through the middle of the Duke defensive line.
Manuel’s first four completions all went for at least 25 yards (25, 34, 52, 71). Duke quarterback Sean Renfree’s longest completion, meanwhile, was 18 yards to freshman Max McCaffrey, who also caught a 13-yard pass earlier in the game for his first career catch.
Duke opened the game 0-for-6 on third down. The Blue Devils first conversion didn’t come until FSU held a 31-0 lead.
Two high hits from Florida State defenders, resulting in personal foul penalties, helped Duke moved down the field on its scoring drive. Jela Duncan put Duke on the board with a 3-yard touchdown run, but the Blue Devils lost two starters on the drive as a result of the hits.
Seminoles safety Lamarcus Joyner was flagged hit Juwan Thompson around his head as he went up for a Sean Renfree pass, leaving Thompson on the ground for several minutes before he was helped off the field. A few plays later, FSU safety Karlos Williams laid Renfree out with a helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked him out of the game. After a few minutes, Renfree, clearly shaken, was helped off the field.