Two key plays
Florida State's sophomore running back continued his “Hey, remember me?” tour with a 104-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Seminoles' 48-7 win over the Duke Blue Devils. While Freeman languished on the bench behind Chris Thompson and James Wilder Jr. during the first half of the season, Jimbo Fisher insisted that Freeman wasn't seeing the field only because the other options were so effective – not because Freeman was slipping. Turns out that Fisher was right – Freeman has run for 174 yards and four touchdowns in his past two games.
Rashad Greene set a new career-high with his 71-yard touchdown reception.
“It felt good to just go out there and do it,” Freeman said. “Just knowing, you know your job, you know your assignment.”
Jones had a huge day and did almost all of his heavy lifting in the first quarter. The junior weakside linebacker had eight tackles – including a career-high three for loss – in the first quarter on the way to an 11-tackle performance.
“He was getting out in space. That guy can play when he hits space, covering and running,” Fisher said. “He's athletic and he can cover and make some big plays in the field with open-field tackles.”
Four key plays
Rashad Greene goes deep
Maybe it's just a coincidence that in his first game removed from his duties as Florida State's punt returner, Rashad Green responded with his first huge offensive play in what felt like a long time,
On Florida State's first offensive possession, Greene streaked down the middle of the field and EJ Manuel hit him in-stride for a 71-yard touchdown pass, the longest of Greene's career and FSU's second-longest touchdown of the season.
Hunter makes a fine first impression
No, it wasn't Tyler Hunter's first career punt return – or even Duke's first punt of the game – but when the Blue Devils finally gave him an opportunity to run during his first game as FSU's return-man, the sophomore defensive back made it count with a winding, weaving 75-yard return that ended in the end zone and gave FSU a 14-0 lead.
Hunter's big night wasn't without room for improvement, though. Later in the game, he exhibited the same problem his predecessor had when he lost a muffed punt. He finished with five returns for 122 yards.
“It felt just being able to showcase (that I'm) more than just a defensive player,” Hunter said. “I've been trying to get Coach Fisher to put me in the offense too, just trying to show him what I can do.”
James Wilder Jr. has run for 10 touchdowns this season and the Seminoles have combined for 29 rushing touchdowns.
Renfree goes down
It made virtually no difference in the game's outcome, but any chance the Blue Devils had to get something positive out of this game ended when star senior quarterback Sean Renfree left with a head injury late in the second quarter.
A penalty assessed to Karlos Williams after hitting Renfree set up the Blue Devils' only touchdown, but backup Anthony Boone finished the game 3-of-15 for 37 yards.
Renfree hadn't fared much better – he completed 13 of his 21 passes for 92 yards when he left the game. Regarding Renfree's injury, Duke coach David Cutcliffe said that they “will just wait and see where it leads from there.”
Hopkins continues to assault the history book
Senior kicker Dustin Hopkins made a little history – both personally and within the Atlantic Coast Conference – Saturday night. His 56-yard field goal that capped the scoring set a new career-high (his previous was 55) and gave him 81 field goals for his career, surpassing former Maryland kicker Nick Novak for the most field goals in ACC history.
“He's really been kicking the ball the last few weeks,” Fisher said, “and he's starting to come into his own, being that Dustin we know and we're very proud of him.”
FSU shuts down Vernon
Heading into Saturday, Duke's Conner Vernon ranked third in the ACC in receiving yards (93.6 yards per game), but finished the game with a season-low three receptions for just 12 yards.
Seminoles closing in on single-season rushing touchdown mark
Freeman and James Wilder Jr. combined to give FSU three rushing touchdowns Saturday and moved the Seminoles' season total to 29. That's just six behind the school's all-time mark of 35, set in 1995.
Hopkins inches closer to national mark
Hopkins' 12 points against Duke (six PATs, two field goals) gave him 429 for his career, moving him into third place on the NCAA FBS scoring list. He's just 11 points from become the national career leader, a record currently held by former Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman.
Fumbles piling up
FSU hit a snag in the third quarter when the Seminoles seemingly couldn't hang on to the ball. Beginning with Hunter's muffed punt, FSU lost three fumbles in the span of seven plays. Florida State fumbled the ball away four times Saturday and, after losing two last week at Miami, have lost six in the last two weeks.
'Noles extend dominance over Duke
FSU's win gave it an 18-0 mark all-time against the Blue Devils That's the second-longest streak between ACC opponents, surpassed only be Clemson's 29-game winning streak over Virginia.
Third-down 'D' stays stout
Florida State entered the game as the nation's best third-down defense, holding opponents to a 23.2 percent conversion rate. FSU eclipsed that mark against Duke, limiting the Blue Devils to 22 percent (4-of-18). FSU also leads the nation with 59 three-and-outs.
Fifth-highest total for offense
Perhaps its a testimony to Florida State's offensive acumen that an outburst like the one the Seminoles' had Saturday night – with 560 total yards – ranked as only the fifth-highest this season. FSU's best performances are:
1. 667 vs. Clemson
2. 649 vs. Boston College
3. 612 vs. Wake Forest
4. 606 vs. Murray State
5. 560 vs. Duke