Counting Down Jameis Winston’s 5 Best Games: No. 2


With the NFL Draft five days away and Jameis Winston the No. 1 overall pick in the draft in mock drafts from just about all the reputable sources, I will be counting down Winston’s five best games as a Seminole leading up to next Thursday when it seems likely that he will make history as the first No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft in Florida State history. You can find the earlier games here, here, and here.

And now we have arrived at the top two games of this countdown of Jameis Winston’s best games at FSU. Many of you have probably hypothesized as to what the top games will be and rest assured that there won’t be any curveballs and most of you will be correct. Coming in at No. 2 is the game that really put Winston on the national map as he led the Seminoles to something that they had not accomplished since 2001 and scored more points in this team’s home stadium than any visiting team ever had. In case that didn’t give it away, No. 2 is Winston’s huge win on the road at Clemson in 2013.

Despite a lightning-quick start to his Florida State career with road wins over Pitt and Boston College, home wins over lesser opponents Nevada and Bethune-Cookman, and most impressively, a dominant 63-0 blanking of Maryland, Florida State and Winston were still not getting the national recognition that their performance warranted. A large part of the reason for that was that most people considered the Seminoles to be untested up to that point. The moment that would make or break the 2013 season would take place October 20th when FSU traveled to take on Clemson in Death Valley, a place where no Florida State team had won since 2001. Although the ‘Noles entered their primetime showdown as the No. 5 ranked team in the country, Clemson entered undefeated as well at 6-0 and ranked No. 3 in the nation.

Winston, who had soared against lesser opponents, was expected to be challenged by a Clemson defensive unit unlike any he had seen all season and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was pegged as the man behind center to have a breakout game, cementing his place in the Heisman race. However, by the time the game was over, it was Winston who had the Heisman moment(s) and Boyd who would struggle immensely and take himself out of the Heisman conversation for the rest of the season.

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From the very start of the game, the outcome seemed clear. On the very first play from scrimmage, Clemson receiver Stanton Seckinger caught a pass for a 9-yard gain before fumbling the ball which was recovered by Lamarcus Joyner. It took the Seminoles just three plays to take advantage as Winston found Kelvin Benjamin for an unbelievable touchdown pass that saw Benjamin jump so high that his hips were at the same height as the Tiger defensive back’s head and FSU led 7-0 just over one minute into the game.

After a Clemson drive that stalled out after one first down, Winston led the ‘Noles 77 yards on 16 plays for a field goal that made it 10-0. The FSU defense came back out and immediately forced a Tajh Boyd fumble which Mario Edwards Jr. returned 37 yards for a touchdown and the Seminoles led 17-0 with three minutes to go in the first quarter.

One might have thought that the Tigers would fight back to make this a somewhat competitive game but that was not to be as the Seminoles continued to lay it on, winning 51-14 with Winston and the starters being pulled out of the game in the fourth quarter despite entering the game as 3-point underdogs according to Las Vegas.

For the game, Winston went 22-34 for 444 passing yards, which would remain his career high throughout the rest of his time at Florida State. He threw three touchdowns, one interception, which Clemson was unable to take advantage of, as well as one rushing touchdown.

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Along with the stupendous stat-line against the Clemson defense which had been touted as the best defense in the country, this was the first time where we saw Winston’s swagger and coolness in a big moment. Although he had many “Heisman moments” throughout the season, the most memorable from this game may be an off-the-field moment from pregame when the ESPN cameras caught Winston in the locker room with his teammates telling them to put a smile on their faces and uttering the now famous “If we gon’ do it, we do it big then.” It must have been an incredibly calming moment to see your freshman quarterback so relaxed, calm, and collected just seconds before the biggest game of his young career.

As memorable as the national championship moment that Winston brought Florida State fans was, it may be equaled by the greatest game in the history of the ACC that wasn’t as the Seminoles ran away with the win over somewhat new-found but very bitter rival Clemson on the night where they attempted to break the record for loudest stadium ever, an effort that quickly became futile.

Check back tomorrow to see what the No. 1 game in the Winston countdown will be as the draft (and probable Florida State history) is just around the corner