Page last updated on Wed Apr 01 05:26:12 EDT 2015
11/30/2013 6:27 PM EST
No. 2 Florida State stays unbeaten, 37-7 at Swamp

AP Sports Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Kelvin Benjamin shook off one tackler
and then three more, bullying his way into the end zone to
finish off Florida State's most impressive play on a day filled
with them.

Benjamin was clearly a mismatch - just like the game.

Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes to Benjamin, and No.
2 Florida State moved a step closer to playing for the national
championship with a 37-7 victory against rival Florida on

"Tremendous," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "KB has real
advantages with his size, speed and athleticism. He can be a
very, very special player, and he's starting to develop into
that guy."

The Seminoles improved to 12-0 for the first time since 1999 and
likely will earn a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title
game by beating Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference
championship game next Saturday.

Florida, meanwhile, ended its worst season since 1979.

The Gators (4-8) lost their final seven games and missed a bowl
for the first time since 1990. Florida's bowl streak had been
the second-longest in the country, behind Florida State.

"We hit rock bottom this year," Florida guard Max Garcia said.
"I feel like the only way we can go is up."

The Seminoles were four-touchdown favorites in a lopsided
matchup that lived up to advance billing.

Although the outcome was never in doubt, the Gators made it
interesting early with some stout defense. They hit Winston
several times, even late once, and stuffed FSU's running game.

But with its offense floundering once again - Florida managed
just three first downs in the first half - the defense
eventually wore down.

And Winston & Co. took advantage.

"His competitiveness is ridiculous," Fisher said of Winston.
"He's a competitor. Nothing fazes that guy. He thrives on that.
... The guy's ability to learn and process information is what
puts him over the top. He can think. He understands what he's
doing at all times. And when he makes a mistake, he can come off
and tell you exactly why he did it, what he did or didn't do

Winston, the Heisman Trophy candidate being investigated for his
role in an alleged rape, hooked up with Benjamin for touchdown
passes of 45 and 29 yards in the second quarter. Winston found
his 6-foot-5 target again in the third, a 56-yard connection
that would have gone the distance had Benjamin not fallen down
while making the catch.

Devonta Freeman scored on the next play, weaving untouched from
11 yards out and putting the Seminoles ahead 27-0.

Winston and Benjamin recorded the hat trick with a 4-yard score
in the fourth.

FSU outgained Florida 456-193, most of it through the air.

Winston completed 19 of 31 passes for 327 yards. Benjamin caught
nine passes for a career-high 212 yards, beating Loucheiz
Purifoy early and often. Benjamin's previous high was 103 yards
receiving at Boston College earlier this year.

"Just doing the little things to be a great receiver,
basically," Benjamin said.

About the only thing that went wrong for FSU was that testy
exchange between Winston and coach Jimbo Fisher in the fourth
quarter. Fisher was upset that Winston let the play clock wind
down, forcing the team to call timeout. Winston screamed back at
Fisher, who grabbed Winston's facemask on the sideline.

The coach and player downplayed it afterward.

Florida's defense held tough early, giving up just 33 yards and
a field goal in the first quarter. Purifoy even intercepted
Winston's fifth pass of the game, but the Gators failed to
capitalize on the turnover. Austin Hardin missed a 49-yard field
goal wide right. It was Florida's ninth missed field goal of the

As the offense kept stalling, the defense started fading.

"Everybody started looking at the scoreboard as a collective
group and saying, `Dang, the offense is just three-and-out,
three-and-out, three-and-out,"' Florida defensive lineman Jon
Bullard said.

It certainly didn't help that Florida had to throw its offensive
game plan out the window after four plays.

Trey Burton hurt his left shoulder on his second carry of the
game, a fitting finale for the injury-riddled Gators.

Coach Will Muschamp said the plan was to line Burton up at
quarterback for 35 plays. He ran twice for 47 yards, including a
50-yarder up the middle on his first carry. He injured his
shoulder on his second run, Florida's fourth offensive play.

He went to the locker room and later returned wearing street
clothes. His left arm was in a sling and wrapped with ice.

"Obviously you don't want to go out like that," Burton said. "I
felt like I let my team down a little bit."

Without him, Florida turned to freshman Skyler Mornhinweg. He
struggled in his two previous games, throwing for 229 yards,
with two touchdowns and an interception.

Mornhinweg finished 20-of-25 passing for 115 yards.

Florida's worst season in 34 years did nothing to affect
Muschamp's status for 2014.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley held an impromptu news conference
before the game and reiterated "total confidence" in Muschamp,
but said "we've got to fix some things" on the offensive side of
the ball.

"We haven't made an excuse all year and we're not going to make
them now," Foley said. "We know what this program is all about.
I have total confidence in coach Muschamp and have made that
clear. We've got to fix some things."

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