CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke’s first trip to the ACC championship game was a dud.
The No. 20 Blue Devils couldn’t stop Heisman Trophy contender Jameis Winston and couldn’t do much when it counted against Florida State’s tough defense in a 45-7 loss Saturday night that snapped their eight-game winning streak.
Winston threw for three touchdowns and ran for another to give the Seminoles (13-0) their second straight league title.
Anthony Boone was 20 of 40 for 138 yards but threw two interceptions and fumbled once for the Blue Devils (10-3). Florida State turned each of those takeaways into touchdowns.
Duke, which averaged nearly 395 total yards and 32.2 points during the best season in school history, finished with 239 yards.
Josh Snead’s 5-yard touchdown run with 1:01 left kept the Blue Devils from being shut out for the first time since 2008.
Just making it to the championship game was a big deal for Duke, which was picked in the preseason to finish last in the Coastal Division.
This is the same program that from 1996-2007 went winless four times and finished with one win in two other years. Until this year, the Blue Devils’ last nine-win season came in 1941 and they have long since wrapped up the first consecutive bowl berths in school history.
But they certainly expected a better showing in their most important game of the year.
This one got away after they failed to take advantage of any of the few early mistakes the Seminoles made.
Duke forced two turnovers in the first half, got a 40-yard punt return from Jamison Crowder and twice advanced inside the Florida State 35 – and came away with nothing to show for it.
While falling behind 17-0 at halftime, the Blue Devils managed 94 total yards – and 67 of them came on the one drive that wasn’t a three-and-out or worse.
That drive ended with Ross Martin’s missed 47-yard field goal that sailed wide right – and that wound up being the closest they came to scoring before the outcome had been decided.
They blew another chance with about 10 minutes left in the half after Crowder’s punt return to the Florida State 33. Three plays later, Boone’s pass for Crowder was picked off by Lamarcus Joyner.
Florida State (13-0) scored its second touchdown – Karlos Williams’ 12-yard scoring run that made it 14-0 – off the interception.
The Seminoles added an 11-yard Winston-to-Kenny Shaw TD off of Boone’s second interception, and Winston ran 17 yards for a score four plays after Boone’s fumble.