TALLAHASSEE — They were coming off their biggest win in more than a decade and knew they had a Top 10 showdown with rival Miami next weekend.
So it would have been natural, maybe even expected, for No. 3 Florida State to have a letdown Saturday against unranked North Carolina State.
Yeah, not quite.
The Seminoles were up by 35 less than 13 minutes into the game and cruised to a 49-17 victory.
“We had to make a statement that last week was not a fluke,” FSU quarterback Jameis Winston said of the 51-14 win over Clemson. “And we had to show N.C. State team, that had a lot of confidence coming in this game ... we had to show them who the better team was today.”
The Wolfpack, and everyone watching, realized that quickly.
“We hold ourselves to a high standard,” junior receiver Rashad Greene said. “Nothing less. We know it's going to take every week, every practice, every game. And once a game is over you have to sweep it under the rug. And that's what we're good at doing.”
The game was so out of hand that Florida State didn't play its defensive starters in the second half. And the first-team offense took just six snaps.
Coach Jimbo Fisher was far from happy with his second team Saturday, but with the undefeated Hurricanes on the horizon — and with ESPN's “College GameDay” preparing to set up shop in Tallahassee — he didn't want to take any risks in a game that was already decided.
“You've got to be careful about injuries,” Fisher said. “And you've got to develop your young players. You've got to get those guys game time and get them on the field.”
Winston finished 16 of 26 for 292 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. Greene had eight catches for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Greene's touchdown was the final one of a stunning first-quarter barrage that saw the Seminoles put up 35 points and 274 total yards.
He said it was a perfect pass from Winston.
“He threw me open,” said Greene, who topped the 100-yard mark for the fourth time this season. “It was a post and he was able to throw me open. He made a great throw and I was able to go run up under it.”
As good as the offense was in the first half — and it was 1990s good, again — the defense might have been even better. Florida State's first team held N.C. State to just five first downs.
Wolfpack starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell, who hadn't played since the first week of the season, was 5-for-16 with two interceptions in the first half.
“Pretty much he chose the wrong defense to come start against,” FSU senior defensive back Lamarcus Joyner said. “My hat's off to that guy, though. He came in and competed. He made no excuses. Played the whole entire game.”
Said senior Christian Jones: “I guess (Mitchell) felt confident. I know he was talking about how he'd been against better defenses and stuff. I think we got his respect, though.”
N.C. State's first six drives went like this: Interception, punt, punt, fumble, punt, interception.
Meanwhile, FSU's first five drives Saturday went like this: Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown.
At the end of the first half Florida State had 371 total yards. N.C. State had 85.
“It was crazy because it seemed like as fast as we got them off the field, we had to go right back on,” junior defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. “Sometimes I was like, 'Dang, Jameis. Man, just incomplete one pass.' But it was just fun.”