TALLAHASSEE -- The third-ranked Florida State Seminoles are still in the hunt for a national championship.
The seventh-ranked Miami Hurricanes would be grateful for a BCS bowl.
After a first half in which three-touchdown underdog Miami kept the game in reach with two interceptions that led to 14 Hurricanes points, the Seminoles broke the game open midway through the third quarter Saturday and went on to a 41-14 victory.
The largest crowd in Doak Campbell Stadium history — 84,409 — watched Stephen Morris’ second interception of the night, this one grabbed by safety Nate Andrews with 13:11 left in the game, seal the victory.
“We just lost to a really good football team,” UM coach Al Golden said. “We’ve got to saddle up and move forward. The kids have had great attitudes, been fighters. Now we’ve just got to keep moving forward when we get back.”
The Hurricanes (7-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) not only lost their first game of the season, they also lost arguably their best player, running back Duke Johnson with a broken right ankle, according to a source. Johnson, who ran for 97 yards, is out for the season and is expected to have surgery this week.
Meanwhile, the Seminoles improved to 8-0 and 6-0, moving a step closer to clinching the Atlantic Division of the ACC — with a rematch with the Hurricanes waiting should they win the Coastal Division.
The Seminoles scored on three of their five drives in the first half Saturday, but threw interceptions on the other two, which the Hurricanes ultimately converted into 14 points.
“I was extremely proud of how he dealt with that,’’ said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher of redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston and his mistakes.
Said Winston, who finished with 325 yards passing, a touchdown and his two picks: “I learned that I’ve got to keep my composure, I’ve got to keep playing and that I have an amazing team.
“They pulled us out of the dumps; they pulled me out of the dumps. They had my back.”
FSU went into the locker room at halftime leading 21-14 but came out fired up in the second half. Seminoles’ senior safety Terrence Brooks, who later was announced as having sustained a concussion, sacked Morris to end UM’s first drive of the third quarter.
From there, the game shifted off course for Miami and into cruise control for the Seminoles.
A 26-yard pass from Winston to senior receiver Kenny Shaw at 8:53 of the third quarter ended in an on-field skirmish that centered on FSU right tackle Bobby Hart and UM defensive end Anthony Chickillo. Hart lay on top of Chickillo and wouldn’t get up, and at some point, Chickillo’s hands appeared to be on Hart’s facemask.
A furious Fisher eventually lit into Hart on the sideline.
The FSU fans started screaming the Seminoles war chant, officials called offsetting penalties on two other players (UM cornerback Tracy Howard and FSU right guard Tre’ Jackson), and FSU had first down at the UM 5.
FSU made it 28-14 on a touchdown run by James Wilder Jr., with 8:33 left in the third quarter.
“We were in a 21-14 game and obviously put the defense on the field too many times in the third quarter,” Golden said. “That’s a high-powered offense, make no excuses. They executed better than we did. The kid [Winston] did a great job of hitting his second and third receivers, and they made big plays.