- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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There was little doubt this would be a blowout, but the onslaught started early, and the bulk of Florida State's starters were off the field by the end of the first quarter.
The Seminoles breezed through the Savannah State defense, racking up 376 yards of total offense and scoring on their first seven drives while building a 48-0 halftime lead. The only thing that slowed Florida State's dominance was the weather, as lightning suspended play for nearly an hour late in the second quarter. Play resumed with an announcement that the rest of the game would be played with a running clock.
Stat of the half: It's hardly worth noting all the huge offensive numbers, as Savannah State hardly put up a fight against the Seminoles' first-stringers, who all had early seats on the bench. The most noteworthy number of the half was probably the one negative moment for Florida State, when senior kicker Dustin Hopkins had his streak of 145 consecutive successful PATs snapped with a miss following FSU's seventh touchdown of the game.
Player of the half: EJ Manuel only played the first quarter, but he made the most of his time. Manuel completed 11-of-13 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns before exiting in favor of Clint Trickett. It marked just the second time in Manuel's career he'd thrown for at least three touchdowns in a game.
What's working for FSU: Everything. Florida State's first four touchdowns required just 12 total plays, and the offense moved the ball at will. Defensively, the starters were virtually all on the sideline by the start of the second quarter, after holding Savannah State to minus-20 yards in the first.
What's not working for FSU: The weather. The stands were already only half full with rain throughout the day and a mismatch on the field dampening much in the way of fan enthusiasm. The combination of the lopsided score and the lightning delay in the second quarter emptied a majority of the fans.
Noteworthy: Freshman Kelvin Benjamin scored his first career touchdown, a 9-yard fade pass from Manuel in the first quarter. … Senior running back Chris Thompson scored his first touchdown in nearly a year in the first quarter. Thompson broke his back last October and missed the remainder of the season. … Junior receiver Willie Haulstead had his first reception since the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl. ... Tight end Nick O'Leary (thigh) and center Bryan Stork (neck) did not play in the first half. Austin Barron started at center and freshman Christo Kourtzidis and Penn State transfer Kevin Haplea both started at tight end. Kourtzidis made his first career catch in the second quarter. ... Defensive tackle Anthony McCloud got his first playing time of the season after missing the opener with a chest injury.