With Ohio State and Baylor right behind in the Bowl Championship Series standings, Florida State needed a big win over Wake Forest on Saturday, and got it, 59-3.
It could have been bigger, too, and unseemly, if not for some class shown by Seminoles Coach Jimbo Fisher.
Third-ranked Florida State led, 42-0, at halftime and Fisher removed his Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Jameis Winston, after only one series in the third quarter.
The move didn’t help Winston in the race for postseason honors because he finished with rather pedestrian numbers: He completed 17 of 28 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns with one pass intercepted.
But Wake Forest, which hasn’t defeated a top-10 team since 1946, surely appreciated the gesture. The Demon Deacons had their hands full with their own quarterback problems.
Wake Forest’s top two quarterbacks, freshman Tyler Cameron and senior Tanner Price, combined to complete 12 passes — six to their own receivers and six to Florida State defenders.
Cameron was five for 19 for 63 yards with three passes intercepted. Price completed one pass for three yards. His other three passes were picked off. (Price had only five intercepted passes in 315 attempts before Saturday.)
“Today was just a comedy of errors,” said Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe. Yet he was not laughing, or even smiling.
Early in the second quarter, Florida State’s defense scored on back-to-back plays from scrimmage. Nate Andrews took back an interception 56 yards, then Jalen Ramsey took back a fumble 23 yards for a score.
The six interceptions tied a Florida State record.
Wake Forest did have a quarterback who escaped without being intercepted. Third-stringer Patrick Thompson completed one of two passes. The completion went for a three-yard loss.
Will (needs) to win
Florida has a long list of players who have sustained season-ending injuries, nine and counting. The Gators may be missing a head coach next.
After a 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt, Florida has its second four-game losing streak in Coach Will Muschamp’s three seasons.
Remember when Muschamp, Texas’ coach-in-waiting, was coaxed away to Gainesville to great fanfare? Those fare fans have now turned on him.
Florida’s record is 4-5, meaning the Gators are in danger of missing a bowl game for the first time since 1990. Florida needs to win two of its final three games, against No. 13 South Carolina, lower-division Georgia Southern, and No. 3 Florida State.
“I certainly don’t like the product we are putting on the field, and that’s my responsibility,” Muschamp said. “I take full credit for that.”
As for Vanderbilt, the former Southeastern Conference cellar dweller is 5-4, and one win shy of a third consecutive bowl appearance since James Franklin became coach.
It was a historic day for the Commodores, who snapped a 22-game losing streak to Florida by defeating the Gators for the first time since 1988. Vanderbilt had not won at Gainesville since 1945, and had never defeated Florida and Georgia in the same season.
At this time last season, Auburn had a record of 2-8 and was coming off a 38-0 loss to Georgia.
After a 55-23 win over Tennessee on Saturday, the Tigers are 9-1. And lately they’ve been winning with half their offense tied behind their back.
Auburn passed just seven times against the Volunteers, a week after throwing only nine passes against Arkansas.
No need to pass when the Tigers are smash-mouthing Tennessee to the tune of 444 yards rushing and also scoring on punt and kickoff returns — the first time that’s happened in the same game in program history. Auburn returned seven kicks against Tennessee for an NCAA-record average of 44.85 yards.
“I still believe we can throw the football,” said Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn. “There’s no doubt in my mind we can, but when you don’t have to, you don’t.”
Dak Prescott followed mom’s orders — even though she was no longer around.
Mississippi State’s sophomore quarterback buried his mother, Peggy, in Louisiana on Wednesday but was back for practice later that night. His reasoning: His mom, who died last Sunday of colon cancer, reportedly told him she would haunt him if he didn’t.
It was clear where Prescott’s mind was, though. During the week he wrote on Twitter: “I Live for you, I Play for you” and “Heaven gained an Angel.”
Prescott performed well in a 51-41 loss to Texas A&M;, passing for 149 yards and two touchdowns and running for 154 yards in 16 carries.
Houston was the only major college football team in the nation that had scored in every quarter this season, until Central Florida blanked the Cougars in the first quarter, and the second, on Saturday. … Minnesota’s 24-10 win over Penn State was its fourth straight in Big Ten Conference play, something the Golden Gophers last accomplished in 1973.
Times wire services contributed to this report.