- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
TAMPA, Fla. -- Chalk it up to the hangover effect following Florida State's big win over Clemson, the trials and tribulations of the Seminoles' first road game of the year or simply a South Florida team that played far better than it had a week earlier.
Whatever the reasons for Florida State's sluggish performance Saturday, the result was all that really mattered.
"We've got a lot of mistakes to clean up," Jimbo Fisher said, "but we came out with a 'W' and that's always good."
There were a handful of less-than-stellar performances, but the big plays provided just enough fireworks to sink USF. Here are the best and the worst of Florida State's 30-17 win.
1. EJ Manuel. It certainly wasn't the glamorous performance that had Manuel in the Heisman discussion a week ago, but the senior quarterback got the job done. The bulk of his success came on check-downs to the backs and tight ends, but Manuel came through in the clutch, completing 5-of-8 passes on third down, accounting for 105 of his 242 yards and his lone touchdown throw.
2. Cornellius Carradine. The first four plays of the game for USF all went to Carradine's side, leading the defensive end to suggest the Bulls must have targeted him as "the weakest link." By the end of the third quarter, however, Carradine had made the game's biggest play, sacking backup QB Matt Floyd, who coughed up a fumble that Christian Jones scooped up for a touchdown. Carradine finished with a team-high nine tackles.
3. Xavier Rhodes. The FSU corner held USF's big-play receiver, Andre Davis, to just one catch for 3 yards, and Rhodes snatched his second interception of the season late in the first half, setting up a Seminoles' field goal.
1. Cameron Erving. The first-year left tackle has held up well so far this season, but Saturday was far from his finest performance. On one second-half series, Erving was beaten twice leading to USF's only two sacks of the game, and he added a false-start penalty for good measure.
2. James Wilder Jr. The much-anticipated homecoming for the FSU tailback and Tampa native didn't go quite as he'd hoped. Wilder finished with just eight yards on five carries and was stuffed on a goal-line run in the first half.
3. Special teams. Karlos Williams had a 60-yard kick return in the first quarter, but it was all downhill for FSU's special teams after that. Dustin Hopkins missed a field goal, Rashad Greene couldn't get anything going in the punt-return game and Cason Beatty had a punt blocked that turned into a USF touchdown.