TALLAHASSEE -- Back in the friendly confines of Doak Campbell Stadium, playing in front of a capacity crowd on parents weekend, the Florida State Seminoles got back on track Saturday night with a 51-7 win over Boston College.
After coming off a two-game road trip in which Florida State struggled, winning a close game at USF and then dropping a tight one to N.C. State, the Seminoles were happy to host the Eagles back in Tallahassee.
“I thought our kids did a great job all week of putting that last game behind them and not letting it drag on,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said.
After Saturday night’s win over B.C., Florida State is 5-0 at home this season and has scored more than 49 points in each game.
Compared to the road where the Noles average 23 points a game and have struggled with mistakes and penalties, their season has been a tale of two teams.
Saturday night, Florida State fans again saw the team that many pegged as a national title contender before the season.
“I think they attacked,” Boston College coach Frank Spaziani. “I think there psyche was they got annoyed that they got a little conservative last week and they weren’t about to do that [again].”
Florida State started slightly flat, allowing B.C. to drive the ball down to the 1 on an opening drive that included a couple of penalties and a couple of mistakes. The Seminoles’ defense showed up right on time, arriving to shut down the Eagles on four straight plays to get the ball back.
“We had just let them drive down the field, but then we had enough,” Florida state senior linebacker Vince Williams said. “We were like ‘we can’t let them get in the end zone.’ [And the stop] gave the offense a ton of momentum. They came on the field energized.”
On the ensuing drive, EJ Manuel found Kenny Shaw for a 77-yard touchdown, and Florida State’s offense didn’t look back. Behind 295 first half yards from Manuel, including 125 to Shaw, Florida State built a 31-7 lead at the half and coasted to a win after the intermission.
Manuel, who completed 27 of 34 passes for 439 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, was sharp for the most part and reached a career high in passing yardage. The performance was good for 10th by an FSU quarterback, and Manuel was able to enjoy most of the fourth quarter from the sideline.
“I thought he should have had five [touchdowns],” Fisher said. “He came out focused. EJ’s got thick skin, too. EJ’s been around this business. He’s a quarterback for a major program, you get your ups and downs and you understand that.
“He understands, he prepared well and played well. He played a tremendous game and did a great job with leadership throughout the week.”
Defensively, Florida State pressured Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig all game, forcing him out of the pocket and into dangerous throws. The Seminoles picked Rettig off twice, sacked him, held him below 50 percent passing and kept the Eagles offense off-balance all evening.
“We have a lot of character, a lot of leadership,” FSU senior defensive tackle Everette Dawkins said. “We were able to pick ourselves up during the week — going back out there having fun — we made sure that we were prepared for today.”
On the day, Florida State rolled up 649 total yards and 51 points while holding Boston College to 225 yards and a touchdown.
It was the kind of performance fans have come to expect from the Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium this season.
Next week though, Florida State must again play on the road, this time in Miami against the rival Hurricanes.
What Florida State team shows up in Miami is anyone’s guess.