TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Famous Jameis did it again, putting on a show reminiscent of some of the Florida State greats who were on hand Saturday to honor Bobby Bowden.
Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes and the third-ranked Seminoles scored 35 points in the first quarter on the way to a 49-17 victory against North Carolina State in Bowden’s return to Doak Campbell Stadium.
Bowden planted the spear at midfield before the game — a job usually done by Florida State’s Seminole mascot. The school honored the 83-year-old Hall of Fame coach who won two national titles and retired after the 2009 season with a pregame ceremony that included nearly 400 former players.
Then the current Seminoles went out and put on display that Bowden’s best teams would have been proud of, setting up a huge game with unbeaten Miami next week in Tallahassee.
Winston completed 16-of-26 passes for 292 yards with one interception and left the game after the opening series of the second half. The effort was the latest dazzling performance put on by the Heisman Trophy candidate.
“A lot of people said it was a revenge game but we simply just wanted to show N.C. State that they didn’t have a chance last year, either,” Winston said. “I mean they’re a great team, but we obviously knew that last year’s game hurt us and it hurt us deep because it stopped our team from potentially getting a national championship so I’m glad that the guys remembered that and bounced back strong.”
Rashad Greene topped 100 yards receiving for the third consecutive game with eight receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown for the Seminoles (7-0, 5-0).
The Wolfpack upset the Seminoles in Raleigh, N.C., last season, but this year it was no contest as Florida State put on a show for its old coach. N.C. State coach Dave Doeren was so impressed he told Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner to, “go win the whole … thing” as they left the field.
“Going into the game everybody has been bragging about (Winston) all week and it’s well deserved,” Doeren said. “He’s accurate, he’s got good players, they run a good scheme, they protect him. … That’s what I told our guys in there — that’s what a championship team looks like.”
N.C. State (3-4, 0-4) had quarterback Brandon Mitchell back for the first time since breaking his foot in the season opener. He completed 17-of-33 passes for 128 yards with two interceptions.
Mitchell threw an interception to Terrence Brooks on the second snap of the game and the Seminoles scored four plays later. This was the beginning of a long day for the Wolfpack, who previously won the last four meetings when the Seminoles were ranked. The 35 first-quarter points tied a Florida State record for the most points in a single quarter.
Karlos Williams took a pitch to the right side, shook a defender and raced to the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.
“It was crazy because it seemed like as fast as we got them off the field, we had to go right back on,” Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. “Sometimes I was like, ‘Dang, Jameis, man, just incomplete one pass.’ But it was just fun.”
The Wolfpack promptly went three-and-out on the next possession and Winston threw a 39-yard touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin on the first play.
Florida State took its time on the next scoring drive. The possession needed seven plays for Devonta Freeman to score an 11-yard touchdown through gaping holes.
The Seminoles were overwhelming in the first 15 minutes, but the Wolfpack didn’t do themselves any favors. Johnathan Alston fumbled on the second snap after the Freeman touchdown and Telvin Smith recovered. Brooks forced his second turnover of the day with a hit on Alston.
“Coming into this game, we knew we’d have to score to play with their offense, and make plays,” Mitchell said. “They have a great team over there and they showed it today.”
Florida State went back to its quick-strike ways with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Nick O’Leary on the second snap after the fumble. That put the Seminoles up 28-0 with four touchdowns scored in 4:13 of possession time.
And they weren’t done.
The Wolfpack punted on the next possession after a desperate illegal forward pass by Mitchell that resembled a no-look, over-the-shoulder basketball pass.
Winston then found Greene for a 42-yard score.
“It’s a step that we’re taking,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It’s a program step, not a team step, but a program step and understanding how to play in those moments and bounce back and not get too high and respond back.”
The Seminoles set a school record for seven consecutive games scoring 40-plus points when Freeman scored on a 4-yard run with 3:06 left in the second quarter.