Maryland has never defeated Florida State. The Seminoles’ performance last week, however, may have given some hope to the Terrapins and the other ACC teams that Florida State has dominated since joining the conference in 1992.
The fifth-ranked Seminoles look to avoid another close call when they visit a struggling Maryland squad on Saturday.
Florida State (6-1, 4-1) needed a 22-yard field goal with 1:03 to play last week to escape with a 20-17 win over Wake Forest, which owns an 0-4 record in conference play. The Demon Deacons, who took Clemson and North Carolina State to overtime, are 2-20-1 all-time against Florida State and have lost all 13 matchups since the Seminoles joined the league.
“I’m very happy and lucky to be here to win this game,” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said.
Wyatt Sexton had a rough game, committing three turnovers one week after completing 20 of 26 passes for a career-high 275 yards in the Seminoles’ 36-3 rout of No. 13 Virginia.
Sexton had two turnovers in the first half, both of which resulted in touchdowns and Wake Forest’s 14-3 halftime lead. After throwing scoring passes of 20 and 46 yards in the second half, he threw another interception that led to a tying field goal.
“The defense was coming with blitz, after blitz, after blitz, and I was confused,” Sexton said. “They were shifting all over the place and making things very tough for me.”
Sexton was making his fourth start in place of Chris Rix, who sprained his ankle Sept. 25 against Clemson.
Despite Sexton’s struggles, Florida State escaped with its sixth straight win since a season-opening 16-10 loss to Miami. The Seminoles are 94-7 in ACC play.
“I never thought growing up we would have to sneak one out of Wake Forest,” said Sexton, whose father was Florida State’s quarterback for part of the 1973 season.
Tailback Leon Washington ran for 80 yards on 15 carries against the Deacons but separated his right shoulder and will miss at least Saturday’s game. Washington leads the team with 689 yards and 98.4 yards per game.
Sophomore Lorenzo Booker, who has split carries with Washington and is averaging just over 80 rushing yards per game, will become the feature back. Freshmen Lamar Lewis and Jamaal Edwards should also see more playing time.
“Nothing’s changed,” Booker said. “Yeah, I’m going to get more of the workload, but it’s not like last year where everything is new to me. I’ve been through everything pretty much already.”
Maryland (3-4, 2-3) has lost all 14 of its meetings with Florida State, including 12 since the Seminoles joined the conference. However, Maryland is most concerned about its three-game losing streak, the longest in Ralph Friedgen’s four seasons as coach.
“Really, there’s no where we could go but up,” quarterback Joel Statham said. “It can’t get any worse than it is right now.”
The Terrapins gained 194 yards of offense in their 10-7 loss to Clemson last weekend after picking up 81 and 91 in their previous two games against Georgia Tech and North Carolina State. Statham, pulled in favor of freshman Jordan Steffy in the previous two losses, played the whole game and went 14-of-31 for 111 yards and two interceptions.
“I am tired of losing,” said Friedgen, who posted 10-win seasons each of his first three years. “We just needed to make two first downs and the game would’ve been over.”