TALLAHASSEE — EJ Manuel passed for three touchdowns in the opening seven minutes and sixth-ranked Florida State's defense held lower-division Savannah State to 28 yards Saturday on its way to a 55-0 victory in a game called in the third quarter because of lightning.
The Seminoles bolted to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter as Manuel completed 11 of 13 passes for 161 yards and five Seminoles scored touchdowns. Manuel didn't play after the opening quarter.
Florida State (2-0) led 48-0 at halftime and finished with 413 yards. Former Plant High star James Wilder Jr. and Kelvin Benjamin each scored two touchdowns before the game was called with 8:59 left in the third period.
Savannah State, a Division I-AA school, has been outscored by a combined 139-0 in its first two games this season. It was beaten 84-0 at Oklahoma State last week. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member is collecting paychecks totaling $860,000 for the two games, which will help the athletic program meet its total budget of $5.1 million.
The school came into the game as unprecedented 70½-point underdogs — and covered, thanks to the weather.
How lopsided was it? Florida State racked up 255 yards in the first quarter while Savannah State's offense went backward to the tune of 20 yards.
Savannah State trailed 35-0 by the time it picked up its first of three first downs in the game on a 12-yard pass from Antonio Bostick to Edward Lackey, Jr.
Florida State scored four touchdowns on its first 13 plays and led 28-0 just seven minutes into the game as things went wrong from the outset for the visitors.
Savannah State (0-2) won the opening coin toss and elected to defer and then booted the game's opening kickoff out of bounds, giving Florida State the ball at its own 35. Just 39 seconds later, Manuel hit Rodney Smith on a 61-yard scoring bomb on the Seminoles third play and the rout was on.
Chris Thompson's 6-yard run 2 1/2 minutes later made it 14-0, followed by Manuel's 8-yard TD pass to Greg Dent made it 21-0 with 8:53 remaining in the first quarter.
After a Rashad Greene punt return of 39 yards, Manuel connected with Benjamin on a 9-yard touchdown pass and the Seminoles were up 28-0 with 7:57 remaining in the opening period. Redshirt freshman Jacob Coker found Benjamin on a 19-yard scoring pass for his first collegiate touchdown pass coming just two minutes before the second and final delay.
Mother Nature may have kept Florida State from erasing some longstanding school records, namely its 74-0 win over Whiting Field in 1949.
By the time both teams returned from a 56-minute weather delay in the second quarter with Florida State already ahead 48-0, officials had agreed to a running clock to shorten the game.
The Seminoles have won their opening two games by 124-3 and have now outscored four I-AA opponents by a 245-19 margin in Jimbo Fisher's three seasons as head coach. Florida State has outscored its first two opponents this season by a combined 124-3 margin. Fisher's club defeated Murray State 69-3 last weekend.
Florida State hosts Wake Forest in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener Saturday while Savannah State has the week off before hosting North Carolina Central on Sept. 22.