TALLAHASSEE -- It took No. 6 Florida State University 39 seconds to score for the first time on Savannah State in what will be remembered as one of the most lopsided and bizarre games in the history of Seminoles football.
By the end of the night (after just over 36 minutes of play) the Seminoles had rolled up 55 points, racked up 413 yards, held Savannah State to just 28 yards and completely manhandled an FCS opponent 55-0 that probably shouldn’t have been on the same field.
The game was called at 8:56 of the third quarter because of severe weather after two delays.
“Obviously, we knew we were coming in a bit overmatched,” Savannah State coach Steve Davenport said. “They are really, really a fine football team. People are talking national championship, and I can understand that.”
The Tigers replaced West Virginia at the last minute after the Mountaineers’ move to the Big 12 caused a conflict in scheduling.
Florida State’s starters played just a quarter, but in that time they amassed 265 yards, five touchdowns and held the Tigers to minus-20 total yards.
By the start of the second quarter, redshirt sophomore Clint Trickett had taken over for quarterback EJ Manuel (11 of 13 passing, 161 yards, three touchdowns) and the FSU’s first team was resting on the bench with a 35-0 lead.
“It [went great],” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher when asked if the first quarter went like he hoped. “It was good we [saw] the offense come out and execute and do the things they had to do. Those things all matter.”
The game started off with Savannah State kicking the ball off out of bounds. Two plays and 39 seconds later Manuel found senior receiver Rodney Smith for a 61-yard score down the middle of the field.
That was all Florida State needed to beat the Tigers.
“We knew we were going to be better than the team we played,” sophomore safety Karlos Williams said. “Coach Jimbo told us that, coach [Bob] Stoops told the defense, but we went into it saying this is another opponent. We’re trying to get to a national championship, and it’s just one more step.”
The Seminoles were up 48-0 midway through the second quarter when a lightning delay halted the game.
After a 45-minute stoppage, Fisher and Steve Davenport agreed to a running clock over the last 34 minutes of the game and a shortened halftime period. The new rules were effectively the same as Florida high school blowout rules and were intended to help the teams finish the game.
“It was agreed upon by both coaches to go with a running clock,” FSU senior associate Monk Bonasorte said. “The ACC official, Doug Rhodes, was informed and they told us that that as long as both coaches agree [that would work].”
It turned out to be wishful thinking.
In the second half, Jacob Coker, the Seminoles’ third-string quarterback, came on to lead the offense on a touchdown drive before another lightning delay forced the end of the game with just under 24 minutes remaining.
“In light of the severe weather conditions that we have encountered throughout the evening and after consultation with officials and Savannah State, the ACC and NCAA, we have determined it is best to terminate the game with a determined final score of 55-0 as it was when play last suspended with 8:59 left in the third quarter,” said a release by Florida State after the game.
Florida State officials had to work closely with the ACC, Savannah State officials and the NCAA to ensure that all results and statistics from Saturday evening’s game were counted.
“I wish we could have finished it, but we can’t,” Fisher said. “There were a lot of young guys I wanted to see playing, but I understand the circumstances.”