TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Like an overmatched sparring partner, Idaho stepped into the stadium, took its lumps and collected a paycheck.
The Vandals were little match for the nation’s second-ranked team, Florida State, on Saturday as Idaho absorbed a lopsided 80-14 road loss at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Vandals (1-10) fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter and never looked like a credible threat to pull off an upset against an FSU team (11-0) that topped 50 points for the seventh time this season.
“What do you say?” said Idaho coach Paul Petrino, whose team collected a $950,000 payment from FSU to travel across the country. “You get beat 80-14, I wouldn’t say anyone on the other team didn’t play well.”
Idaho quarterback Taylor Davis did his best to stay upright against Florida State’s menacing pass rush, and he completed 16 of 38 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. Davis was sacked six times and was intercepted three times, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
The Vandals moved the ball with some success offensively but struggled to finish off drives once in FSU territory. Idaho’s defense, meanwhile, surrendered nine scoring drives to the Seminoles that took less than three minutes off the clock.
FSU running back Devonta Freeman broke loose for a 60-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead five minutes into the game, and Jameis Winston connected with receiver Kelvin Benjamin on a 32-yard scoring strike for a 14-0 lead with 5:18 left in the first quarter.
Winston added a 46-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Shaw early in the second quarter for a 28-0 lead, and James Wilder Jr.’s 1-yard plunge across the goal line gave the Seminoles an insurmountable 35-0 lead with just under six minutes remaining before halftime.
Richard Montgomery hauled in a pass from Davis on a route underneath and outran FSU pursuers to the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown reception to trim Idaho’s deficit to 35-7 with 41 seconds left in the first half. The Vandals defense couldn’t preserve that margin, however, as FSU needed only 37 seconds before Winston located Shaw on a 20-yard touchdown pass for a 42-7 halftime lead.
FSU continued the rout in the second half with 17 points in the third quarter and seven more in the fourth.
The Vandals capped the scoring with Josh McCain’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Najee Lovett with 42 seconds left.
Winston, playing while under investigation for sexual assault, completed 14 of 25 passes for 225 yards with four touchdowns. The Vandals sacked him three times and also caused him to fumble.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs said it is unlikely that a final decision will be made before Thanksgiving on whether to charge Winston in the case.
Idaho’s Dezmon Epps caught seven passes for a team-best 126 receiving yards.
“If I was Dezmon Epps I learned that I could play with the best there is,” Petrino said. “He played against Florida State today. Those are the best players in the country, and he held his own, foot for foot, play for play.”