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Monday, December 9, 2013
Player of the week: ACC

By David M. Hale

It’s perhaps appropriate that the ACC season ended much as it began, with Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston compiling another spectacular performance in a game in which the Seminoles again dominated.

Back in September, Winston’s career began with a win over Pitt in which he threw for 356 yards and accounted for five touchdowns. On Saturday, Winston wrapped up an ACC championship and secured a trip to Pasadena for the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game by throwing for 330 yards and accounting for four touchdowns in a 45-7 victory over Duke.

It’s a statement to Winston’s consistent excellence this season that Saturday’s performance, for which he earned the game’s MVP trophy, might have been one of his worst starts of the season. His 69.9 Total QBR was his lowest of any of his 13 games, and it was just the second time this year he threw two interceptions in one game.

Still, if Winston struggled, it was briefly.

The Heisman Trophy frontrunner opened the game completing just 1 of 6 throws, but he wasn’t off by much. Four of the five incomplete passes hit his receivers’ hands, but they couldn’t hang on for the catch. After a scoreless first quarter, however, Winston finished 16-of-24 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns, and racked up 58 yards on nine rushes, including another TD. Florida State ran off 45 consecutive points, and the game was effectively decided midway through the third quarter.

With one game remaining, Winston has 38 touchdown passes and 3,820 passing yards — both ACC and FBS records for a freshman. He’s thrown for more touchdowns than any quarterback in Florida State history. Winston ranks second in the nation in touchdown throws, first in yards per attempt and first in QB rating.

Winston’s big game against Duke was his sixth this season with at least four touchdowns and his seventh throwing for at least 300 yards.