TALLAHASSEE – Jameis Winston was a show-stopper early and a spectator late – not a whole lot different from his first game.
Winston accounted for three touchdowns, Florida State’s four tailbacks all scored and the 10th-ranked Seminoles routed Nevada 62-7 Saturday.
No doubt, Winston’s home debut was nearly as flawless as his season opener.
The freshman from Hueytown, Ala., completed 15 of 18 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score, capping a third-quarter TD barrage that turned a close game into a lopsided affair.
“We have great players on offense that can make big plays at any time,” FSU running back James Wilder Jr. said.
The Seminoles (2-0) thumped Pitt 41-13 on the road 12 days ago, a game in which Winston grabbed headlines with a 356-yard, four-TD passing performance that included a school record for completion percentage.
Some wondered what he would do for an encore.
Well, he had an early hiccup – a second-quarter interception that Nevada (1-2) turned into a 7-3 lead – but he responded better than anyone could have expected. He completed his final 13 passes for 184 yards and two scores.
“When the adversity came, we knew we had to go higher,” Winston said. “That’s what most of the players were telling me, ‘This prepared you for the future.’ I was like, ‘We don’t want to see that in the future guys. ... We’ve got to start fast and keep grinding.”’
The Seminoles grounded Nevada into submission.
Devonta Freeman ran nine times for 109 yards and a touchdown. Wilder – the other half of “Wild and Free” – added 45 yards and a score.
Karlos Williams may have been the most impressive of the bunch. The former safety, who moved to offense after the opener, ran eight times for 110 yards and a score. His 65-yard scamper made it 31-7 early in the third quarter.
“I’m not trying to say that I was rubbing a crystal ball, but that guy is a talented cat,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He’s very dynamic with the ball. He’s big, he’s strong and explosive. He’s natural. When he gets in space, he can hit home runs and he’s hard to tackle because he’s a big, physical guy there, too. ... Karlos will provide us a very big piece of the puzzle, in my opinion, as the year goes on.”
No one is more key than Winston. He proved to be a threat on the ground, too. He scored on a nifty 10-yard bootleg in the third – his final play of the day.
Winston watched the final 20 minutes from the sideline.
He had a front-row seat for fourth-string tailback Ryan Green, who ended up rushing five times for 78 yards and a score.
The Seminoles were a little out of rhythm early, but responded in a big way. They scored the final 59 points, including four touchdowns on their first four possessions in the third.
None of those drives lasted more than two minutes, and the first two took a combined 33 seconds off the clock.
Freeman went 60 yards on the first play of the second half – Wilder dominated a defender for the key block – and then scored from 8 yards. Williams got on the field next, taking his first offensive touch and outrunning defenders for a 65-yard score.
The Seminoles were just getting started, too.
Wilder found the end zone on the next drive, and then Winston capped the offensive barrage with his run. He faked out all 11 defenders and maybe even a few cameramen before coasting across the goal line.
“If they respect his game and don’t respect ours, obviously you can see how we can run the ball,” Wilder said. “It’s kind of a disadvantage for defenses. There’s not really much they can do.”
The Seminoles finished with 617 yards, including 377 on the ground.
Sure, Nevada and Pitt are a long ways from Clemson and Miami, but Winston’s poise and presence – on the road and at home – are good signs for a team with high hopes this season.
Nevada’s bigger problem was on offense, where quarterback Cody Fajardo didn’t even play because of a sprained knee. Devin Combs got the start and completed 6 of 9 passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. He was limping late in the first half and was replaced to start the third.
Tyler Stewart played the second half, completing 7 of 15 passes for 49 yards, with an interception.
“By no stretch of the imagination are we making any excuses and we’re not hiding from this,” Nevada coach Brian Polian said. “We are going to be honest about it and then we are going to bury it and we are going to get ready to play in our league.”