PROVO, Utah (AP)—Florida State ran away with No. 7 BYU’s BCS hopes.
The Seminoles were too fast for the Cougars on Saturday, scoring every time they got inside the 20 and forcing five turnovers in a 54-28 win that crushed BYU’s BCS hopes.
Christian Ponder threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, Ty Jones ran for 108 yards and a score and Greg Reid returned an interception 63 yards for a TD in a rout by the Seminoles.
“It shows us what we can do,” said Ponder, who passed for 195 yards and ran for 77 more. “It’s the first time in a while we played as whole team. The defense played great. The offense played incredible.”
Three weeks after upsetting Oklahoma in the season opener, BYU’s Bowl Championship Series aspirations faded a little bit on each drive by the Seminoles.
Florida State (2-1) converted on its first nine third downs, pounced for 10 points in the final 24 seconds of the second quarter and added two touchdowns in the third, running away and spoiling the most anticipated home opener at BYU (2-1) in years.
“I think Florida State was more prepared in general than we were tonight, really from beginning to end,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I think their preparation exceeded ours and it showed—especially on third down.”
Florida State looked nothing like the team that needed to rally in the final minute a week ago in a 19-9 win over Jacksonville State.
The Seminoles finished 12-for-15 on third down conversions and scored all eight times they got inside the BYU 20. They scored often enough, starting with a 13-0 lead that BYU was trying to catch up and only continued to fall farther behind with mistakes.
Max Hall completed 20 of 31 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns for BYU, but also threw three interceptions. Harvey Unga ran for 97 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars.
“Any loss is devastating, regardless of if you’re ranked,” Unga said. “Hats off to those guys. They came here ready to play.”
The Seminoles outran the Cougars 313 yards to 108. FSU didn’t punt until about a minute remained in the third quarter and avoided starting the season 1-2 for the first time since 1989.
“I’ve been through this thing so many times, I knew we had an advantage,” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. “We went out there and made some plays, which we hadn’t done lately, and we also forced some crucial turnovers.”
The Seminoles took advantage of two giveaways while scoring 24 straight points, including Reid’s interception return that put Florida State up 37-14 with 12:52 left in the third quarter.
FSU’s Lonnie Pryor ran for two touchdowns on his first two college carries. Ponder was 21-for-26 and carried 11 times, frustrating the Cougars when they had shut down the passing lanes and nearly had him stopped.
If the Cougars expected to be at an advantage playing at 4,500 feet above sea level, the Seminoles from the Atlantic Coast Conference quickly dispelled that notion and showed they were ready to run all four quarters.
Even when BYU of the Mountain West Conference appeared to be on the verge of a big stop, Ponder was able to get the ball away or tuck it and run for a first down.
“He can beat you with his arm, his legs and his mind,” FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. “And then he can also beat you with how competitive and tough he is.”
BYU had chances to keep up with the Seminoles, but coughed up the ball at crucial moments. The Cougars fumble after driving inside the Florida State 20 on BYU’s opening series, then a fumbled kickoff return allowed the Seminoles to add a field goal by Dustin Hopkins as the clock expired at the end of the second quarter for a 30-14 halftime lead.
Once Reid stepped in front of a pass by Hall and sprinted untouched for a touchdown, the Seminoles were up 37-14 and the blue-clothed fans who packed LaVell Edwards Stadium sat silently as a small contingent of FSU fans chanted and chopped in the northwest corner.
Ponder added a touchdown on a 6-yard run with 5:11 left in the third to put the Seminoles up 44-14 and even an 80-yard touchdown pass by Hall to McKay Jacobson 12 seconds later wasn’t nearly enough to revive BYU.
The closest BYU got was 20-14 on a 3-yard pass from Hall to Manase Tonga with 5:11 left in the second quarter, but Ponder led the Seminoles 82 yards over 12 plays, hitting Caz Piurowski for a 5-yard touchdown pass.