Jermaine Thomas rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown, E.J. Manuel was effective in his first career start, and Florida State kept its bowl hopes alive with a 41-28 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday.
Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher had his hands full after losing sensational quarterback Christian Ponder, the nation’s third-leading passer, to a separated shoulder in last week’s 40-24 loss at Clemson.
“We have so much pressure on us from the coaches in practice that when the game comes, the pressure isn’t anything,” Manuel said about replacing Ponder.
Manuel was 15 of 20 for 220 yards. He threw for a touchdown and ran for another in his replacement role debut.
The Seminoles will qualify for a bowl for a record 28th straight year with a win next week against Maryland.
Defensive back Greg Reid said, “we want to keep the streak alive for coach Bowden.”
Reid was the player of the game, with a defensive touchdown return against the Wake Devils.
FSU head coach Bobby Bowden said, “Manuel has got everything but the experience, and Jimbo is trying to be sure we’re running stuff he can handle and trying to find out what he handles best.”
Wake Forest lost its fifth straight and was eliminated from bowl contention in a sour final home game for Riley Skinner.
Looking to become the first quarterback to start in four wins over Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden, Skinner struggled as the Demon Deacons fell behind 31-7 in the second quarter.
Wake Forest got within 31-21 early in the third quarter on Kevin Harris’ 12-yard touchdown run from the wildcat formation, but the Demon Deacons could get no closer as their banged-up defense struggled to contain Florida State’s running game.
Wake Forest had beaten Florida State three straight times by allowing 24 combined points, a number the Seminoles eclipsed Saturday with 3:40 left in the second quarter.