CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was so vociferous during Saturday afternoon's game against Virginia that he nearly lost his voice sometime in the second half.
That was the only thing he came close to losing.
His Seminoles were coolly efficient on offense, even dazzling at times. And they were aggressive and, for the most part, unyielding on defense for a third straight week as they routed the Cavaliers, 34-14, on a picture-perfect fall day at Scott Stadium.
In so doing, the Seminoles (4-1) picked up their third straight win — a benchmark considering they hadn't won that many in a row since midway through the 2008 season — and improved to 2-0 in the ACC for the first time since 2005 — the last time FSU won the league title.
That's a lot to yell about.
In a good way.
"It's huge," Fisher said in a raspy voice of the momentum that comes with winning streaks. "And it's learning to win on the road in the league. If you're going to get conference titles, you've got to learn to win at somebody else's house."
The Seminoles, who face an even more daunting road trip next weekend to No. 16 Miami, hadn't fared so well in their only other game away from Tallahassee this season. Lest any FSU fan forgot, Oklahoma humbled the Seminoles 47-17 on Sept. 11.
"Obviously, we had a big road test that second game and didn't do so well," senior quarterback Christian Ponder said. "We were hungry (on Saturday). We were motivated and we knew we had to make a statement on the road."
A loud one.
While no one is going to confuse the Cavaliers (2-2, 0-1) with No. 8 Oklahoma, not after they've beaten only a pair of Division I-AA teams this season, they did shut down Southern California in a 17-14 loss Sept. 11 in Los Angeles.
But Ponder, behind a re-tooled offensive line, led the offense to scores on its first four possessions. That included a career-long 70-yard run from junior tailback Jermaine Thomas, who finished with 122 yards and two touchdowns.
"We talked about stepping on their throat early," Thomas said. "We just came out there with intensity and played hard as a team."
FSU rolled up 294 of its 428 yards en route to a commanding 27-0 halftime lead.
Virginia, meanwhile, mustered just 42 yards on 27 plays. After a three-and-out series late in the first half, the partisan crowd of 47,096, most of whom wore white T-shirts that read "We Are One," booed their own team.
"We just want some respect," FSU junior linebacker Nigel Bradham said of the defense, though he could easily have been talking about the mind-set of the entire team. "That's all we're trying to do is gain some respect each game."
Virginia did a bit more in the second half, which included quarterback Marc Verica's 76-yard touchdown to receiver Kris Burd, then backup quarterback Ross Metheny hitting tight end Colter Phillips for an 11-yard score in the waning minutes.
"I'm disappointed for our players," first-year Virginia coach Mike London said. "I'm disappointed for the fans. That wasn't the type of effort that is indicative to the type of team that I think we have here."
Blame the Seminoles for that and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Everett Dawkins, for one, said he saw that kind of performance coming. Not just in practice but in the meeting room during the week and even on the eve of the game.
"Coach Fisher even commented that we had that look in our eyes," he said. "I could tell we were definitely focused."
"It's part of maturing," added Fisher. "It was a great thing to see. It really was."
Even if he couldn't talk loudly about it afterward.
Brian Landman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3347. Check his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/seminoles.