TALLAHASSEE -- How long does it take the Florida State offense to go from zero to 60?
About five plays.
On an afternoon when Florida State honored former coach Bobby Bowden, the Seminoles did their best impression of the teams he coached during the schools heyday even paying homage with a fake punt and beat North Carolina State 49-17.
An early onslaught put to rest any notion the Seminoles might be looking past this game to next Saturdays anticipated matchup against in-state rival Miami. The Canes held up their end of the bargain barely by beating Wake Forest 24-21 to ensure Saturdays game in Tallahassee would feature two undefeated teams.
It promises to be the type of matchup that harkens back to the days of Bowden, who was at the center of 300 of his former players crowding around him before Saturdays opening kickoff against N.C. State. The 83-year-old Bowden the all-time winningest coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision ambled out in front of 80,389 fans and said a few words, his trademark Southern gentility still as evident as ever.
As he spoke, his players assumed a familiar position, taking a knee as they listened to their old coach one more time.
People always ask me if I miss football, said Bowden, the crowd hanging on his every word. No. I tell them I miss the fans.
There was plenty to cheer for Saturday afternoon at Florida State. Within six plays of the opening kickoff roughly the time it probably took Bowden to reach his seat FSU had already intercepted an N.C. State pass and driven the ball 65 yards for a touchdown.
The Seminoles attack continued for the next 13 minutes. By the time the dust settled, Florida State was up 35-0 with two minutes to go in the first quarter.
We kind of had a minute on the sideline when we came off after the drive and we looked up and it was like, Whoa, its still the first quarter, senior left tackle Cam Erving said.
Added junior defensive tackle Tim Jernigan: It was crazy because it seemed like as fast as wed get them off the field, we had to go right back on. Sometimes I was like, Dang, Jameis. Man, just incomplete one pass. But its fun. Its fun when the offense is scoring like that and the defense is playing at a high level.
As impressive as Florida States offense was scoring 42 points and racking up 371 yards in the first half the defense was even better.
Senior safety Terrence Brooks set the tempo with an interception on N.C. States second offensive snap, and Florida States defense continued to demoralize the Wolfpack throughout the first half. The Seminoles gave up just 85 total yards and did not surrender a point before halftime.
But the early success might have come at a cost.
We started too fast, to me, senior wide receiver Kenny Shaw said.
Florida States starters on defense were told at the half that their day was done, and the offense played just one possession in the second half as the Seminoles rested their starters and got their reserves some playing time.
We get coached to have a killer mentality, so I kind of wanted to run up the points a little bit thats what I would have done, Jernigan said. But weve got to do what Coach [Jimbo Fisher] says.
For all intents and purposes, Saturdays game was over before the second quarter started. But FSU currently finds itself in a three-way race with Oregon and Alabama for the two spots in the BCS Championship Game.
Like it or not, style points matter.
When people look at this game, theyre not going to say the second team of the Florida State defense, senior linebacker Telvin Smith said. Theyre going to say the Florida State defense allowed 17 points, 300-something yards. You know, were just trying to get those guys into the mentality that youve got to fight for us as much as we fight for you.
Said Fisher: I dont care. Im not going to go out there and embarrass this game and the integrity of how youve got to play. If thats the way theyre going to do it, then they need to reevaluate.
If they cant tell that we dominated that game early and put it away I just think thats bad for college football.